ECONOMIC EXPERTS: APRIL JOBS REPORT SHOWS NEED FOR CHILD CARE IN AMERICAN FAMILIES PLAN
The latest jobs report, in which women’s employment fell by 64,000 and 165,000 women left the labor force, is the latest evidence that the United States needs to invest in accessible child care, which will help combat the she-cession brought on by the pandemic and boost equitable economic growth.
Economic experts agree that a lack of access to child care and care infrastructure was a major contributor to the disappointing April jobs report:
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen:
- “Between February and April 2020, 4.2 million women dropped out of the labor force, in large part due to an unexpected caregiving burden. Nearly 2 million have not yet returned. The challenge before us is to help these 2 million women to return to the labor market … to help the millions of other workers who left prior to the pandemic to do the same. Our policymaking has not accounted for the fact that people’s work lives and their personal lives are inextricably linked, and if one suffers so does the other […] The pandemic has made this very clear.” [NBC News, 5/7/21]
Former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Austan Goolsbee:
- “If you look at the jobs data, leisure and hospitality was actually the one bright spot, adding more than 100% of the net jobs for the entire economy…I think what we’re seeing is a massive child care crisis and I really think we need to address that. Women had a net job loss […] While schools remain closed and until we get day care going, I think that employers across the country especially who have traditionally hired women are going to be facing pretty significant labor shortages.” [NBC News, 5/7/21]
Corporate Economist at Navy Federal Credit Union, Robert Frick:
- “There are preschools and kindergartens and child care and schools that are fractured and not open, so there are a lot of women who are forced to stay home […] You can look at states with higher and lower unemployment benefits and there’s no correlation with their unemployment rates,” [The Hill, 5/7/21]
Director of Labor Market Policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, Kate Bahn:
- “Women are overrepresented in the highest risk jobs [and] most marginalized women have used child care that is not addressed by public policy; it just reached a crescendo.” [NBC News, 5/7/21]
Economic Studies Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Lauren Bauer:
- “Women’s re-entry into full engagement with the labor market — they are being held back. It is not the case that women are holding back the economy […] It’s not just the pace of vaccinations, but the fact that children aren’t vaccinated. Not just that the economy is starting to reopen, but there are insufficient child care slots available. Are kids going to be able to go to camp? What are people doing with their children during the summer? Are they going to be able to start a job right now, knowing that you know school in whatever form is existing right now is about to be over?” [The 19th*, 5/7/21]
The American Families Plan includes a $225 billion in access to child care and child care workers, which will put the country back on track to lead and boost overall productivity, including:
- Investing in care work, just like investing in physical infrastructure and clean energy, boosts the economy and creates new jobs.
- Going big on care infrastructure investments could support the creation of 3 million new jobs.
- Social care investments have the potential to generate twice as many jobs as infrastructure spending and 50% more jobs than green energy development.
- Investing in the care economy, in turn, produces widespread benefits in the restaurant and retail sectors as caregivers spend their disposable income.
- Increasing access to child care will help women return to their own careers. An investment of 2% of GDP in the care industry has the potential to reduce the gender gap in employment by half in the United States.
- A lack of affordable child care has become a barrier to work for many parents, especially mothers. Equal access to high-quality child care and preschool would increase GDP by $551 billion by allowing more parents to seek and keep their jobs.
- Access to affordable child care could increase the lifetime earnings for women with two children by about $94,000. It would also boost the collective lifetime earnings of a cohort of 1.3 million women by $130 billion.
“Public investment in care would allow millions of family caregivers who have left the labor market, reduced their hours, or lost their jobs in 2020 to return to work, strengthening overall economic activity and ensuring that a generation of women’s labor market gains do not disappear.”