It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put two and two together: women’s employment fell in April, with millions of Americans saying a lack of child care access has prevented their return to work. Now, unemployment levels are up.

The latest jobs report provides further proof that Americans need the American Families Plan, a long overdue investment in the nation’s care infrastructure that will ensure access to quality and affordable child care while creating millions of jobs, boosting GDP, and generating equitable growth across the country.


The investments in the American Families Plan will put the country back on track to lead and boost overall productivity, including: 

$225 billion investment in access to child care and child care workers 

  • 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.” 

$225 billion investment in paid family and medical leave

  • Family and medical leave programs will strengthen the health of workers and solidify our economic growth. 
  • Research suggests there are several ways in which paid medical leave has an effect on health outcomes, including improved health management, earlier treatment, greater healthcare utilization, reduced financial stress, and enhanced return-to-work supports.
  • Mothers are 20-50% less likely to separate from the labor force five years after giving birth if they have access to paid leave.
  • Women with access to paid leave are 40% more likely to return to work after giving birth than those without access to leave.
  • Workers and their families lose $22.5 billion in wages each year due to a lack of paid family and medical leave.
  • Surveys from California’s pioneering paid family leave (PFL) program show employers reporting either a “positive effect” or “no noticeable effect” on productivity (89%), profitability/performance (91%), turnover (96%), and employee morale (99%).
  • According to Maya Rossin-Slater, assistant professor of economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, expanding access to paid family leave “reduces disparities in leave-taking between low and high socioeconomic groups, and does so without damaging these women’s later labor market prospects.

“Paid parental leave at the state and local level improves child health and development and maternal well-being while causing minimal negative impacts on employers, and paid leave at the federal level could help children from all backgrounds, curb the growth in inequality, and boost long-term U.S. economic growth and stability.”

— Washington Center for Equitable Growth