Corporate services and personal finance are among the top industries targeted by a new study that found women are increasingly forced to make do with less-than-adequate assistance in paying for essentials like rent, utilities and food.
Researchers at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and Georgetown University surveyed nearly 8,000 American women, looking at how they use personal finance, healthcare and personal savings.
The researchers found that women were twice as likely as men to be struggling to make ends meet when their salaries, wages and child support payments were stagnant or declining over the last three years, and were three times as likely to have trouble getting a new job.
“The trend toward shrinking employment opportunities for women and the associated economic pressures has created an unprecedented situation for women,” said IWPR president Marcy Stech, whose group is working on a comprehensive report that will address the issue.
The study found that the percentage of working women in their 30s and 40s who are either in the labor force or actively seeking a job is now at a 40-year low.
According to the report, in 2013, 47% of women between the ages of 25 and 54 who were in the workforce or actively looking for a job were living with their parents.
As a result, the number of working Americans who are unemployed or in part-time employment has been on the rise for decades.
“This has created a situation where working women are forced to rely on the government to provide basic services like rent and healthcare,” said Stech.
One of the most startling findings from the study was that the number of women who said they would struggle to afford food and other basic necessities when their wages and income stagnated has doubled since 2009, to nearly 7.7 million women.
That number rose by more than 1 million women between 2009 and 2013, while the number who said their wages were stagnant has declined by more nearly 5 million women since that time.
“The fact that the unemployment rate among women is now more than double the unemployment rates for men shows that, in fact, women are more likely to be unemployed than men,” said co-author Andrea Smith, a senior policy analyst at IWPS.
While the number that are unemployed is down slightly, it’s still up from its low point in 2009.
But the study shows that the gap between women and men is narrowing, as women are now more likely than men to have jobs that require a college degree, are paid well, or have a high-paying job.
“We are seeing a change in the gender pay gap, and the gender wage gap has become the most consequential factor in driving women out of the labor market and out of middle-income households,” said Smith.
The research is the latest to examine the effects of the Great Recession on women’s economic and financial lives.
In 2008, the recession devastated many women’s ability to find a job, and many had to rely upon welfare and government assistance programs for their survival.
Since then, the gender gap in pay has narrowed.
At the same time, the report found that there has been a steady decline in the number and percentage of women in the workplace, with the unemployment numbers for women showing a slight improvement from 2009 to 2013.
However, the data on women in finance shows that even as women’s earnings and incomes have risen, the share of women working in finance has remained stagnant.
Even as the financial sector is getting back to pre-recession levels, the majority of women remain stuck in low-paying, part-timers, the IWPP study found.
This is largely because of the lack of opportunity for women in financial services, which is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S.
The study also found that men and women in most occupations, including financial services and manufacturing, are equally likely to say they work part- or full-time, or are in the middle of a job.
However, while women are making up for lost ground in financial service, men are not.
A woman is more likely, on average, to be working in the finance industry than a man, the study found, which means that men make up about one-quarter of the population, but only about one in five employed in the financial services industry.
It also found, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that women are still making up a smaller share of finance jobs than men.
Overall, women make up 25% of the workforce in the banking and financial services industries, but account for less than 8% of financial advisors and accountants.
Women are also underrepresented in many of the fields where the average compensation is higher, including healthcare and public health.
Women make up roughly 30% of workers in the nursing and midwifery industries, the most diverse of the industries studied, and account for about 11%