The Pandemic Has Forced 2.3 Million Women Out of the Workforce to Care For Loved Ones, While Essential Caregivers Have Been on the Front Lines Without Adequate Pay or Protection
50 Groups Sign Letter Saying Congress Must Go Big and Invest in A Care Infrastructure That Includes Affordable Child Care, Long Term Care, and Elder Care; Millions of Good-Paying Jobs for Care Providers; and Paid Family and Medical Leave
The Letter Kicks of a #CareCantWait Week of Action During Which Leading Advocacy Groups, Business Leaders, and Lawmakers Will Push for Major Investments in Care
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Invest in America and the #CareCantWait coalition released a letter signed by 50 advocacy groups urging Congress and the Biden administration to invest in a family-friendly care infrastructure. The letter will run as a full page ad in the New York Times on Tuesday, April 13. Read the letter and view its signers here.
The letter kicks off a #CareCantWait Week of Action during which leading care advocacy groups will partner with lawmakers, activists, care providers, and business leaders to urge Congress to prioritize investing in a care infrastructure as part of the next legislative package. That means investing in affordable child care, elder care, and long term care for people with disabilities; investing in a care workforce to create millions of good-paying care jobs; and creating an inclusive paid family and medical leave program. Together, these policies create a care infrastructure that keeps the American economy running.
“Caregivers are the backbone of our economy. Our workforce will only recover when we invest in good care for families, including the care jobs that enable others to go back to work,” said Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of National Domestic Workers Alliance and Caring Across Generations and member of the #CareCantWait coalition. “During the pandemic, too many of us were forced to stop working due to caregiving responsibilities — particularly women, people of color and immigrants, the same populations who disproportionately occupy jobs in our care economy. This is a once-in-several-generations opportunity to both strengthen our economic foundation while addressing long standing inequities in opportunity.”
“The pandemic exposed what so many already knew: that investing in our nation’s caregiving is just as important to our economic health as investing in our roads and bridges,” said Zac Petkanas, senior advisor to Invest in America. “With a champion for women in the White House, we have a golden opportunity to make the long overdue investments in America’s care infrastructure that will deliver an equitable, sustainable, and family-friendly economic recovery — and prosperous future for the next generation.”
“The pandemic did not create the caregiving crisis, but it has pushed women to a dangerous breaking point,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of TIME’S UP Foundation and TIME’S UP Now and member of the #CareCantWait coalition. “We can’t go back to the way things were. Now is the moment to rebuild better than before and that starts with a robust investment in our country’s fragile care infrastructure.”
Read the letter and its signers here:
“It’s time for the Biden administration and Congress to deliver for women by investing in a family-friendly care infrastructure that works for the millions of people who need care and support, those who have had to leave the workforce to become unpaid caregivers, and for the paid caregivers who have been historically undervalued.
The cracks in our care infrastructure have existed for decades, but the pandemic brought them to the forefront. We lost generations of economic gains for women when the need to care for children and loved ones forced them out of the workforce. More than 2.3 million women left the labor force in 2020, more than 600,000 of whom were Black and 618,000 of whom were Latina.
At the same time, the workforce that provides care — most of whom are women, and up to 31% of whom are Black women — was on the front lines of the pandemic without adequate pay or support, and nearly one in six child care jobs that have been lost during the pandemic have not returned. These are the people we rely on to care for us from birth to the end of our lives, yet even before the pandemic, their wages were often not enough to care for their own families.
We now have the historic opportunity — and responsibility — to prioritize building an equitable, durable, family-friendly care infrastructure as a core part of rebuilding our economy. That means investing in affordable, high-quality child care and long term support and services for aging adults and people with disabilities so that millions of unpaid family caregivers can return to their careers; creating millions of new care jobs and investing in those jobs to ensure care workers are paid family-sustaining wages, provided benefits, and a choice to join a union; creating an effective, inclusive paid family and medical leave program to allow all people to take care of themselves and loved ones in need; and updating our tax code to center women and communities of color, including permanently expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit. For undocumented care workers, it also means providing a pathway to citizenship to ensure that they have protections and a real shot at economic security and opportunity.
Making overdue public investments in our care infrastructure isn’t just good for women, it’s a critical part of the country’s economic recovery. Robust investment in the care sector would create millions of new jobs for the women hit hardest by this crisis, generate hundreds of billions in new economic activity, and allow millions of women who have been pushed out of the labor force to return to their own careers.
As Congress prepares to make landmark investments in physical infrastructure and digital infrastructure, they must recognize that care is also a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure, and the engine that keeps our economy going.
Now is the time to make bold public investments in our care infrastructure to build an equitable economic recovery that works for everyone.”