Increased Strain on Working Mothers Increases Economic Risk
In case you missed it over the weekend, the $24 billion pandemic-era stimulus funding that sustained the U.S. child care industry expired.
Why it matters: Nationwide, more than 70,000 child care programs are projected to close, and about 3.2 million children could lose their caregivers – leaving parents around the country with tough decisions to make about their jobs.
Without child care available to them, working parents may choose to reduce hours and work part-time, or even leave their employers entirely.
According to ReadyNation, annual economic losses due to parents missing work have more than doubled to $122 billion since 2018, with U.S. businesses hemorrhaging $12.7 billion per year from employees suffering from child care challenges.
A separate BCG study indicates that by 2030 the United States could lose up to $290 billion in GDP annually from a worsening crisis in care staffing that includes child care.
Among working parents, females are four times more likely to miss work due to child care as males, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau figures by the nonpartisan data hub USAFacts.
Working mothers leaving the workforce is a problem for the economy – those with young children have been among the group of prime-aged women (between ages 25 and 54) contributing the most to post-pandemic labor recovery.
However, Motherly’s 2023 State of Motherhood Report surveyed 10,000 mothers and found that as much as 52% of working moms say the cost of child care has made them consider leaving the workforce.
Is Post-Pandemic Technology the Answer?
As working parents grapple with a new challenge in their child care situations, some may be able to consider technology to soften hardships.
Fast Company writes, “Companies like Care.com and Winnie streamline access to daycares and preschools. Other newer platforms like Bumo Care and Bambino want to make hiring babysitters as easy as hailing an Uber.”
It’s barely been a year since working parents likely stopped feeling the lingering effects of the last child care crisis that working remotely introduced during the 2020 pandemic. Yet, necessity bred innovation, accelerating new and innovative options for homeschooling children, virtual classrooms and remote learning.
Parents may find themselves in familiar positions of having to rely on workarounds to get them through the next year to come.