Research Finds Burnout Among Utah Women Exceeds Hope Amid COVID-19 Economic Crisis


SALT LAKE CITY – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, new research has revealed that Utah women are experiencing more burnout than they ever hope. It comes when revenue declined and hours increased in some industries.

Data from the Utah Women and Leadership Project was released recently, as the pandemic has raged for more than a year, bringing with it deaths, economic crises and mental health problems for residents.

“We need to do specific things in our communities to generate hope and tear down (feel) exhausted,” explained Susan Madsen, founder and director of UWLP. “Because our exhaustion is greater than our hope right now.”

A total of 3,542 Utah women responded to the survey, surpassing the original goal of 2,000 respondents. Tuesday’s report is the first of several reports on the impact of the pandemic on women living in the Beehive state.

The research aims to measure where Utah stands compared to national trends that showed women in the United States have suffered the disproportionate effects of the pandemic compared to men and have been forced to leave the force as a result. labor in greater numbers; the phenomenon has been called the pink recession.

While Madsen expected Utah to follow national trends, he said it is important to study specific areas and gain insight into what is happening in local communities.

“Knowing where we are exactly in the state of Utah is much better than knowing in general what is happening (in the country),” he explained.

While Utah has reflected some of the same trends seen nationally, the state stood out in other areas.

“We are the same in many ways, but we are different in others,” Madsen said, pointing to the great economy that Beehive State has sustained.

The data differs between industries, showing that the percentage of women reporting a decrease in salary was the lowest for those working in construction fields at 5.1%. About 13.6% in construction said they increased their hours.

Other industries were inversely affected, with 25% of those in the hospitality and tourism industry reporting their wages decreased and 4.4% reporting their hours increased. A total of 27% in the manufacturing industry reported that their income decreased and 12% said that their hours increased.

“Since a decrease in salary and an increase in working hours could lead to more mental and emotional stress, these data were summarized together,” the researchers explained in the report.

On average, those who work in foodservice experienced a decrease in income, but also an increase in working hours, with approximately 26% reporting a decrease in income and 29% reporting an increase in hours.

“In terms of the emotions that could result from declining income and increased working hours, respondents indicated feeling burned out at levels that were higher than expected levels in all industries except commerce, transportation and public services, where they are equal. ” the researchers wrote. “Utah women as a whole reported that they are exhausted and, at the same time, have ‘some’ hope for the future.”

Child care

Many women between the ages of 30 and 49 reported leaving the workforce to care for children who were unable to attend school or daycare due to the pandemic. Madsen said companies tend to avoid tackling child care issues, but noted that solving these barriers doesn’t necessarily mean building a daycare on site.

Even connecting employees to child care resources can help address these issues and allow women who want to work to re-enter their careers.

“Successful companies are going to change things and 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 necessary changes to move things forward – it’s really not rocket science, policy change within companies can happen quite quickly.” .

Domestic abuse

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, that number increased to 11%, compared to 8.7% for white women who felt the same way.

“Many of the women who are struggling the most did not take the time to take (the survey),” Madsen added. “That’s a lot of people even in our sample, but we know that that percentage is probably much, much higher.”

The data points to a trend that was first reported in March 2020, when law enforcement agencies, including the Salt Lake City Police Department, said they had seen an increase in calls related to domestic violence in the first few weeks. of closures related to the coronavirus.

Connecting victims of domestic violence to the right resources, such as the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, YWCA Utah, South Valley Services and the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, is crucial to addressing these issues in the state, according to Madsen.

“We need more resources in the state of Utah, but we have some strong core resources,” Madsen said. “The problem is that many people in domestic violence situations do not even know what to do because they do not want to admit that this is what is happening, they do not want to talk about it, they do not want to. So some of the people who need it the most actually need it. have people around you say, ‘Hey, can you read this report that really defines what domestic violence is?’

Raising awareness about the problem itself, educating people about the signs of domestic violence, and letting people know that there are groups that help are one of the most important things the state can do to address the problem, Madsen said. .

Going forward

Now that there is data, what can residents of the state do? Madsen said it’s pretty simple: implement best practices to address these issues. Companies, for example, can take the research and see immediately how their business practices could be changed to better serve the women on their staff, Madsen said.

“Those, for me, are tomorrow’s conversations,” he said. “If they got this report, companies could have conversations about exactly that.”

It is important for state and local leaders to take action and find ways to solve problems faced by residents in local areas.

Madsen said county and city leaders reached out to his group during the project to create data based on the locations of respondents in order to establish a baseline of where each area is now, hoping to improve problems in the future. There were differences in experiences based on where the women lived in Utah. For example, those living in Washington County reported slightly more hope than burnout, while every other county in the state saw an increase in burnout and a decrease in hope.

Solutions like the recently implemented tax refund program by Governor Spencer Cox for adults affected by the economic cost of the pandemic are a great way to address the issues exposed by COVID-19, he added. Cox’s executive order aims to remove barriers that many could face when trying to rejoin the workforce after suffering from the ongoing economic constraints of the pandemic.

“The goal of a take-back program is to help seasoned adults re-enter the workforce without starting at the bottom of the career ladder,” Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson said 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.”

Moving forward, implementing more of these types of programs can really help the state develop and address some of the problems caused by the pandemic that could have a lasting impact on the state for years to come, Madsen said.

“By understanding the research and the research to come and then putting those programs together, everyone can work together to really move things around and change things,” he said.

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