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Survey: How COVID-19 is Disproportionately Impacting Women’s Finances and Continuing to Drive the Great Resignation

The best ways include finding ways to save more money, making larger monthly payments, restructuring your loans, or receiving assistance from your job to pay off student loans faster.

Published March 02, 2022

8 min read

In the two years since the COVID-19 pandemic first began, women in the U.S. are continuing to see a significant impact on their lives, particularly when it comes to financial challenges and barriers in the workplace. According to Laurel Road’s new survey results, women continue to leave the workforce, often feeling they are underpaid or undervalued, and struggling with mental health burdens related to work-life balance in higher proportions than men. Yet on the upside, many women plan to ask for a raise in 2022 and are willing to switch jobs for the pay they feel they’ve earned.

Our fifth-annual survey exploring financial literacy and management among 1,000 U.S. college-educated adults, found that among women who lost annual income in 2021, the average percentage was 41%, up from 33% in 2020, and BIPOC women lost even more – an average of 48% of their annual income.

Other key findings highlight the disparity women are feeling and how they plan to face the challenges.

  • 73% of women surveyed feel they were disproportionately impacted by events from Covid-19 pandemic, a decrease of only 4% from 2020
    • Even more of BIPOC women (84%) feel they were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic
  • 69% of women feel they are underpaid with respect to their current value at their company

While these numbers may paint a seemingly daunting picture of women’s financial outlook this year, there is also an upside to their plans in 2022. According to our survey, 54% of women – and 59% of BIPOC women – stated they think they will ask for a raise in 2022.

“Although women disproportionately faced setbacks from the pandemic, whether it be delaying their own professional growth because of childcare responsibilities or experiencing a greater loss of income, our study found that they’re also seeking new careers or preparing to ask for a raise to elevate their financial future,” said Alyssa Schaefer, General Manager & Chief Experience Officer at Laurel Road. “Our hope is that these findings institute change by serving as a conversation starter on the challenges women face as a result of the pandemic, both at home and in the workplace, while also providing women the tools they need to continue to feel empowered to achieve mental wealth, encouraging generations to come.”

The Great Resignation continues

Women are quitting their jobs at higher rates than men as the coined ‘Great Resignation’ continues to sweep the U.S. In fact, 34% of women and 35% of all surveyed BIPOC women reported leaving their jobs in 2021, compared to 30% of men. Only 10% of women reported doing so involuntarily.

And women continue to explore ways to change their employment situations, with nearly 2 in 5 (37%) female respondents noting that it was at least somewhat likely they’d leave their current job in the next year, including 43% of BIPOC women. When asked what would inspire them to leave their current job for another, women stated higher pay (68%), remote work (34%), a better work-life balance (34%) and better management (21%) as the top reasons.

Women, especially women of color, feel employers can still do more to narrow pay gap

The survey showed that 44% of women do not feel their employers have been successful in narrowing the pay gap, with almost half (48%) of BIPOC women agreeing that their company isn’t doing all it can to lessen the gender pay gap.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop with just a paycheck. The survey found 42% of women feel that women at their company are less financially empowered than men overall, with 49% of BIPOC women indicating they feel this way.

Childcare impacts respondents across the board

When asked about navigating work and childcare responsibilities, 51% of dads reported they feel childcare responsibilities during COVID-19 impacted their ability to work in one way or another, while only 46% of moms felt the same. Interestingly, this reflects a significant decrease for men from 2021, when 72% of dads indicated childcare responsibilities had impacted their work in the last year. There was a slight increase for women from 2021, when 42% of moms reported feeling the impact of childcare at work last year.

The top impact of childcare responsibilities for women (23%) has been delaying their own professional growth because of childcare responsibilities, while men report that they’ve felt the impact on both their professional growth (19%) and the need to reduce work hours (19%) equally.

When it comes to what they’re looking for in an employer, both 27% of dads and 27% of moms reported that they are more likely to pick a job based on an employer’s support for them as a caregiver or parent.

Women are assessing financial goals to make money moves

As the pandemic wears on, 3 in 4 (75%) women reported feeling like they are behind schedule when it comes to financial security goals, compared to 73% who felt they were behind in 2021. When asked in which ways they felt behind, women identified retirement savings (50%), investments (32%) and salary (24%) as the goals they are most behind on.

About the survey

This Laurel Road survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 nationally representative college-educated US adults, with oversamples to 1,000 female respondents and 500 female BIPOC respondents, between February 7th and February 15th, 2022, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of 1,000 nationally representative U.S. college-educated adults.


In providing this information, neither Laurel Road nor KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, financial, accounting, or legal advice.

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