Feb 24, 2021 - Economy

More parents leave jobs to care for children

Illustration of a child, a mom, a laptop a phone and schoolwork.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the pandemic drags on, child care is not getting any easier for working parents, and more and more are hitting their limits and leaving their jobs, per a new report from the think tank Third Way, provided exclusively to Axios.

The big picture: Lack of child care is now the third-most cited reason for not working, behind layoffs and furloughs. At the very beginning of the pandemic, it was No. 5.

What's happening: Prices at child care centers have gone up nearly 50% since the onset of the pandemic due to increased sanitization and staffing costs, making them unaffordable for many Americans.

  • And the 56% of Americans who rely on relatives or grandparents to take care of their kids can no longer do so because it's unsafe.
  • So more and more parents — especially mothers — are dropping out of the labor force for their children.

Superstar cities are seeing big increases in labor market dropouts related to child care, Third Way found.

  • Since late April, New York has had 240,000 such cases; San Francisco, 50,000; Houston, 110,000.

Worth noting: The pandemic is hurting child care providers, too. 1 in 5 jobs in the child care industry — which disproportionately employs women of color — are now gone.

The bottom line: "The crumbling child care industry is increasingly holding back economic recovery across the country," writes Jillian McGrath, an economic policy adviser at Third Way.

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