Capital Region women who lost jobs to COVID find new path

Where have all the women gone? Millions lost their jobs due to the pandemic, including women right here in the Capital Region.
So what happens to the economy, to families, to the unemployment roles when women are out of work?

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the 2020 unemployment rate in New York state was 9.7%, and 428,000 women in the state dropped out of the economy as their jobs went away because of the pandemic.

Leng Leng Chancey heads 9 to 5, a National Women’s Group that advocates equal pay for women.

"We saw this happening, and we saw it coming and we quickly went to work because we knew that our membership and folks in our community were going to suffer," said Chancey.

Kimberly Cowles was one of those women.

"I’m a divorced mom with six kids, four of whom are still home and I was working for Fidelis Centene," she recalled.

When the schools closed, restaurants shuttered, and businesses paused, the health insurance company also did. Coles started working from home and thought it was just for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t.

"They said that we don’t need this position anymore and 3,000 of us in the company were laid off in February of [20]21," said Cowles.

The pandemic did not discriminate. Cowles who worked behind a computer lost her job, but so did TV personality and pitch woman Jené Sena. She was the spokesperson for Soma Intimates on QVC.

"I loved doing the QVC thing. I loved being on the go. I even enjoyed, like, a little bit of time away. It would give me some time, kind of, to decompress, and a little balance with my crazy, hectic family, four kids, two dogs," she said.

Then the lights faded to black. She got a phone call from the person at Soma who was her supervisor, who said they weren’t going to sell products on QVC anymore.

For Genn Shaughnessy, it looked like she had it made. She owned a consignment store and for 25-years was a freelance hair and make-up stylist. However, she never imagined a pandemic would color her world.

"I was very comfortable, we were doing well. I wasn’t worried about money. There was no financial stress," she explained.

However, the pandemic would turn all of their lives upside down.

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Learn about how all of these women found light at the end of the tunnel by watching the video of Elaine Houston’s story.