May 14, 2020 (New York, N.Y.)— While the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt the nation in varying degrees, it is having a major impact on the daily lives of Black women. ESSENCE, the leading media, technology and commerce company serving Black women and communities, today released research findings from its Impact of COVID-19 on Black Women study. This first comprehensive study of Black women during the coronavirus pandemic reveals key insights into what Black women are experiencing and how it is affecting their lives – from jobs and financial stability, to family and health, to trusted sources and post-pandemic outlooks.
“Black women comprise just over half of the Black population, are one of the most influential and active voting blocs in the U.S., and are heads of household in almost 30% of all Black households, which is more than twice the rate for all women,” said Richelieu Dennis, founder and chair of Essence Ventures, parent company of ESSENCE. “So, it is vital that we understand what they are thinking, feeling and experiencing as a result of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic. ESSENCE’s Impact of COVID-19 on Black Women study underscores the observation that while we are all in the same storm, we are not in the same boat. The insights gleaned from this data should be used to help governments, NGOs and businesses better understand and develop the emergency and relief efforts, recovery and sustainability initiatives, and product and service offerings that will be most critical for Black women as they continue to deliver leadership and impact to their households and communities during this crisis and beyond.”
From a health perspective, Black women have a major concern about contracting the virus themselves (67%), but are even more concerned that loved ones could get infected (80%). One in four (24%) personally knows someone who has died from COVID-19, and 44% personally know someone who has contracted it. Black women say the pandemic has most negatively impacted their emotional well-being (64%) and mental health (63%), with 43% saying it has also negatively impacted their physical health. While just over one-third (34%) of Black women say the pandemic has had a negative impact on family relationships, 83% plan to spend more quality family time post-pandemic.
Concerns regarding education are overwhelming, and significant opportunities exist for educational resources, tools and support to be increased. The majority of Black women who are parents (85%) say there are not enough computers or laptops in their household to support the educational needs of their children, and 79% say their children are not getting enough support from their school systems.
Financially, over half (52%) of Black women in the study are currently facing or anticipating a negative financial impact as a result of the pandemic, as compared with only 20% who are not, and half (50%) say that their ability to work effectively has been negatively affected by the pandemic. In addition, 70% of Black women business owners reported a negative impact on their businesses, with the majority attributing the impact to no or low sales, supply chain disruptions and an inability to cover expenses. Most Black women (88%) believe that the COVID-19 crisis will lead to an economic recession.
Accordingly, spending has been adjusted during the pandemic, with Black women saying that they are spending less on clothing/accessories (61%), jewelry (60%), luxury items (57%), entertainment (54%) and personal electronics (51%) categories.
As reports of soaring grocery prices make headlines, food habits of Black women consumers have changed significantly during the pandemic, with 78% cooking meals at home more frequently and 38% saying they order delivery/take-out from restaurants less often. A majority (56%) also say they are facing a lack of access/availability of food and household essentials.
Issues of safety and containment measures, whether testing, contact tracing or otherwise, will likely continue to be critical as businesses and cities seek to successfully reopen and rebuild consumer confidence, with the study’s post-pandemic behavior findings showing that 39% of Black women currently say it will be longer than a year before they travel internationally, and 28% say they do not plan to travel internationally. Half (50%) say they do not plan to use Uber/Lyft, and 41% do not plan to attend sporting events. The top three activities that Black women say they will immediately resume once it is deemed safe are visiting friends/family; going to church/religious institutions; and outdoor activities.
Additional key findings from the ESSENCE Impact of COVID-19 on Black Women study include:
- The CDC is the most trusted source of information (57%) for Black women when it comes to the pandemic (followed by news channels at 42%). However, Black women currently use news channels most (69%) to gather information, followed by news websites (43%), the CDC website (32%) and then state government websites and social media (both 31%). Still, state government websites are trusted by 33%, whereas social media – though used as much – is only trusted by 8%.
- Black women view Dr. Anthony Fauci (66%) as the most trusted leader/expert when it comes to information on the pandemic, followed by state governors (46%) and city mayors (30%), while President Donald Trump is the least trusted (1%).
- The majority of Black women were already planning to vote in the upcoming presidential (63%) and state (62%) elections, and the COVID-19 crisis does not impact their plan to vote. However, almost 30% say they understand the power of their vote more today than ever and are more likely to vote in the upcoming elections (27% in presidential; 29% in state).
- Moving forward, Black women are more likely to patronize small/local businesses and businesses that treated their employees well with increased pay and safety measures during the pandemic, while they are less likely to patronize businesses that did not practice social distancing, participated in price gouging, and defied shelter-in regulations.