SALT LAKE CITY – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, new research has revealed that women in Utah experience burnout more than they feel hopeful. It comes as income fell and the number of hours increased in some industries.
The data from the Utah Women & Leadership Project was recently released as the pandemic has raged for more than a year, causing death, economic crises and mental health issues for residents.
“We have to do certain things in our society to raise hope and bring down (feel) burnt out,” explained Susan Madsen, founder and CEO of UWLP. “Because our burnout is higher than our hopes right now.”
A total of 3,542 Utah women responded to the survey, which exceeded the initial target of 2,000 respondents. Tuesday̵
The research aims to measure where Utah is compared to national trends, which showed that women in America have suffered under the disproportionate effects of the pandemic compared to men and were forced to leave the workforce in higher numbers as a result; the phenomenon has been called the pink recession.
While Madsen expected Utah to follow national trends, she said it was important to explore specific areas and get information on what’s going on in communities.
“Knowing exactly where we are in the state of Utah is so much better than just knowing in general what’s going on (in the country),” she explained.
While Utah has mirrored some of the same trends seen nationally, the state stands out in other areas.
“We are the same in many ways, but we are different in other ways,” said Madsen, pointing to the large economy that the beehive state has maintained.
The data varied across industries, showing that the percentage of women reporting a fall in wages was the lowest for those working in construction, at 5.1%. About 13.6% in construction said their hours increased.
Other industries were affected the other way around, with 25% of those in the hospitality and tourism industry reporting their wages and 4.4% reporting their hours rising. A total of 27% in the manufacturing industry reported that their income was declining and 12% said their hours were increasing.
“As a drop in wages and an increase in working hours could lead to more mental and emotional stress, these data were summarized,” the researchers explained in the brief.
On average, those working in food services experienced a decline in income but also an increase in working hours, with approximately 26% reporting a decline in income and 29% reporting an increase in hours.
“Regarding the feelings that could be due to reduced income and increased working hours, respondents indicated that they felt burnout at levels greater than the level of hope across industries except trade, transport and utilities, where they are equal,” researchers wrote. “Utah women as a whole reported that they are burnt out and at the same time they have ‘some’ hope for the future.”
Many women between the ages of 30 and 49 reported leaving the workforce to care for children who were unable to attend school or day care due to the pandemic. Madsen said companies tend to shy away from solving childcare issues, but noted that resolving these barriers does not necessarily mean building a day care facility on site.
Even connecting employees with childcare resources can help solve these problems and give women who want to work the opportunity to get back into their careers.
“Successful companies want to shake things up, and they have already done so, and some of the best companies are really implementing these (flexible) policies,” Madsen said. “Find out what your employees need, do some research, collect data, analyze your data, and just make the changes you need to get things moving; it’s really not rocket science. Changing corporate policies can happen pretty quickly. “
Abuse in the home
The research also pointed to a disturbing finding – 9% of women living in Utah said they had experienced domestic violence in their homes since the pandemic began. For Latino and Hispanic women, this figure jumped to 11% against 8.7% of white women who felt the same way.
“Many women who struggle the most did not take the time to take (the survey),” Madsen added. “There are a lot of people, even in our sample, but we know that percentage is probably much, much higher.”
The data points to a trend that was first reported in March 2020 when police agencies, including the Salt Lake City Police Department, said they had seen an uptick of domestic violence in the first few weeks of coronavirus-related closures.
Connecting victims of domestic violence to the right resources, such as the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, the YWCA Utah, South Valley Services and the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, are crucial to solving these problems in the state.
“We need more resources in the state of Utah, but we have some solid basic resources,” Madsen said. “The problem is that a lot of people in domestic violence actually do not even know what to do because they do not want to admit that it’s going on, they do not want to talk about it, they do not want to. who most need it, actually need people around them to say, ‘Hi, can you read this report that actually defines what domestic violence is?’
Raising awareness of the problem itself, educating individuals about signs of domestic violence and letting people know that there are groups that help is one of the most important things the state can do to solve the problem, Madsen noted.
Now that there is data, what can citizens do? Madsen said it’s pretty simple: Implement better practices to solve these problems. Companies can, for example, take the research and immediately look at how their business practices could be changed to better serve the women in their staffs, Madsen said.
“It’s for me conversations tomorrow,” she said. “If they got this card, companies could have the conversations exactly about it.”
For state and local leaders, it is important to take action and look for ways to solve the problems that residents face in local areas.
Madsen said county and city leaders reached out to their group during the project to create data based on respondent’s locations to set a baseline for where each area is now, hoping to improve issues in the future. There were differences in experiences based on where women lived throughout Utah. For example, those living in Washington County reported slightly more hope than burnout, while all other counties in the state saw an increase in burnout and a decrease in hope.
Solutions like Gov. Spencer Cox’s recently implemented return program for adults affected by the pandemic’s financial toll is a great way to address the issues facing COVID-19, she added. Cox’s executive order aims to remove barriers that many may face as they try to get back into the workforce after suffering from the ongoing economic constraints of the pandemic.
“The goal of a return program is to help experienced adults get back into the workforce without starting at the bottom of the career ladder,” said Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson when the program was announced last week. “Diversity and life experience are valuable to us and should not be relevant to pay and opportunities in the workplace.”
Going forward, implementing more of these types of programs can really help the state develop and solve some of the pandemic-caused problems that could have a lasting impact on the state in the years to come, Madsen said.
“Understanding the research and the research that is coming and then putting these programs together, they can all work together to really move things and change things,” she said.
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