CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The findings of a recent survey conducted by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center shows that the social and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have hit Wyoming women especially hard.
Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center, partnered with the Wyoming Community Foundation and the Wyoming Women’s Foundation on the survey, which intended to better quantify how pandemic related loss of income and child care options, burdened Wyoming families – women in particular.
The survey respondents were selected at random. The results showed that one-third of whom were women with children in their household, and one-fifth of whom were single mothers [17 percent] worried their food would run out before they could afford to buy more, more often than prior to the pandemic.
“We had been hearing a lot of anecdotal reports that women were experiencing significant challenges due to COVID-19, and we really wanted to see some data to show,” said Rebekah Smith, director of Wyoming Women’s Foundation, a nonprofit that helps women achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Previous reports by the same organization showed that as many as 58 percent of Caucasian single Wyoming mothers lacked adequate income to support their households. The number was higher, at 76 percent, for non-Caucasian mothers in the state.
The survey suggests that those longstanding divides were sharpened at the start of the pandemic, which shut in-person schooling and day care centers down, forcing many of these women to make tough decisions regarding their work.
74 percent of single mothers reported that school and day care closures had a “moderate or severe” impact on daily life, whereas 67% of women living in two-parent households did.
“Job loss and school closures are going to affect all parents, but we’ve found that a lot of time child care responsibilities will fall to the mother for various reasons,” Smith said. “If it’s a single mother, then of course it falls to her – and she’s also the lone breadwinner – so that creates an incredibly challenging situation.”
The survey also revealed that large percentages of women don’t know how to access resources to help ease food insecurities, find financial support, or mental health resources.
“That wasn’t necessarily exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Smith. “But what has been exacerbated is the need.”