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Reporter Chabeli Carrazana on helping women in the workforce get through the recession and how COVID-19 affected her own family

Chabeli Carrazana covers women and the economy for The 19th. Image: zoom screenshot / WMFE
Chabeli Carrazana covers women and the economy for The 19th. Image: zoom screenshot / WMFE

Last August, reporter Chabeli Carrazana wrote that the economic impact of the recession has been especially severe for women, calling it “America’s first female recession” in an article for The 19th

Over seven months later, Carrazana returns to Intersection to discuss the efforts to address the issues women in the workforce are facing and share the story about the personal tragedy that changed her perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Carrazana says that the unemployment rate for women is still fairly high, especially for women of color. She says that in February, unemployment rates for Black women, Latina women and White women were 8.9%, 8.5% and 5.2% respectively. 

“So there's a pretty big chasm there between what's happening for white women versus what's happening for women of color,” she says. “And so the recovery--I think the story of this entire year has been that it's been fairly unequal and uneven.”

In addition, Carrazana says that women have lost around 2.5 million jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, while men have lost about 1.8 million. 

She says the recently-passed American Rescue Plan overwhelmingly helps women and women of color. The plan contains $40 billion in emergency funds to help the childcare industry. 

“Being able to help those centers reopen, help them pay rent, help them pay their workers who are again, predominantly women of color, that is going to help a lot of women who have either lost their jobs or have left their jobs because they don't have a childcare aspect or component,” Carrazana says.

She says the change in the child tax credit also has a significant impact. The change increases the tax credit from $2000 to $3000 a year per child (or $3600 for children under the age of 6) and makes the tax credit available for low-income families.

Carrazana recalls a conversation she had with one woman who said the change in the tax credit would allow her to return to the workforce.

“‘And so what this means is if I want to get back into the workforce and work part time, I can now rely on these dollars to maybe pay for childcare while I wait for my first paycheck to come in,’” she says. 

A few weeks ago, Carrazana published a piece in The 19th about her grandfather, who passed away from COVID-19 in January. She wrote about the challenges her family faced while having a family member in the hospital for three weeks.

“It's very difficult...to find yourself alone...in an overwhelmed hospital where the nurses are not available to come and see you to just care for you and your family isn’t either,” she says. “And so that, I think, was something that was particularly hard for us, because we did see the effect that that had on my grandfather when he was alone in those final days of his life.”

Carrazana says her family found it ironic that they saw people going to Disney World and restaurants, and yet they couldn’t go visit their loved one in the hospital. 

She says this year, we’ve all communally gone through a great loss.

“Hopefully, it means we come out a little bit more empathetic and a little bit more willing to help your neighbor; think about the experiences other people go through a little bit differently;” Carrazana says. “Hold a little bit more space in your heart for them.”