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Axios screenshot

The coronavirus pandemic highlighted how the "flimsy [child] care infrastructure" is not helping workers move up in their careers, said Sarita Gupta, director of the Future of Workers program at the Ford Foundation, during an Axios event on Thursday.

Why it matters: Lack of good child care was one of the most cited reasons for not working during the pandemic, Axios' Erica Pandey reports. Child care costs spiked, making it harder for American families to afford it.

The big picture: "A consensus is emerging among top economists and business leaders that getting kids back into day cares and schools is critical to getting the economy back to normal," The Washington Post writes.

What she's saying: "It's really important ... for us to understand that America is the only advanced economy without universal infrastructure in place to support individuals and families in need of care," Gupta said.

  • "It's become highly unaffordable for too many families to get the kind of care that they need. And what we've seen, the pandemic we just saw plain as day, how the ramifications of a flimsy care infrastructure were felt sorely by workers, disproportionately more so for women of color."

Where it stands: Child care has become a major focus for President Biden who, in April, unveiled his $1.8 trillion "American Families Plan," which would expand the country's education system, provide more help for child care and create more jobs. The plan would be covered by increased personal taxes on the rich as well as corporate tax increases.

  • If approved by Congress, the package would ultimately save the average family $14,800 a year on child care expenses.

The bottom line: "Families' lack of ability to find affordable, stable child care or home care often hinders their ability to take advantage of upskilling opportunities and moving up the career ladder," Gupta stated.

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

Updated Aug 19, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on health access in the Latino community

On Thursday, August 19, Axios hosted a virtual event on closing gaps to health access in the Latino community. Axios Justice & Race Reporter Russ Contreras and Politics Reporter Stef Kight hosted one-on-one conversations with Representative, Texas' 16th Congressional District The Honorable Veronica Escobar; practicing cardiologist and Chief Medical Correspondent at Univision Juan J. Rivera, M.D.; and Chief CRA Officer and Community Banking & Development Executive at Bank of America Alberto Garofalo.

The Honorable Veronica Escobar unpacked COVID-19’s impact on her community, opening the ports between Mexico and the U.S., and governmental responsibility in vaccination efforts.

  • On the effect COVID-19 had on El Paso, Texas: “We became a national hotspot… for a couple of reasons. Latino populations are especially vulnerable because of lack of access to health insurance…. primary care and high rates of being essential workers. But also because we're on the border and Mexico, which at the time was not testing, tracing and mitigating at the same levels. We were doubly at risk.”
  • Her thoughts on Texas Governor Greg Abbott testing positive for COVID-19: “I hope that it's a wake up call for many Texans in terms of getting vaccinated, but I also wish the governor a very speedy recovery. I hope it's a wake up call for him as well…. I hope that while he is convalescing with the best care around him, he realizes that the vast majority of Texans don't have that, and he has a change of heart.”

Juan J. Rivera, M.D discussed the health care inequities for Latinos in the U.S., Latinos’ heightened risk factors, and the importance of preventative medicine.

  • His thoughts on why Latinos seem to be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19: “It's a population with less access to primary care and preventative care. So when it comes to diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and obesity, which now we know are risk factors for the severity of COVID-19, the prevalence of those in the Hispanic community are tremendous. It attacked a vulnerable population to begin with.”
  • On vaccine hesitation among Latinos: “I think there's a lot of misinformation… on the Internet. If you have, let's say, 25 or 30 percent of Latinos — including undocumented immigrants — that don't have access to... a primary care doctor, that's going to be their source of information. So it's very easy for them to encounter misinformation.”

Axios Chief People Officer Dominique Taylor hosted a View from the Top segment with Chief CRA Officer and Community Banking & Development Executive at Bank of America Alberto Garofalo, who discussed the work Bank of America is doing to support the Latino community.

  • “We're delivering on the $1.25 billion commitment over a five year period to specifically advance racial equality and economic opportunity... This effort further accelerates the work already underway to create opportunities for people of color through direct action, investments and work to catalyze similar efforts across the private sector. It includes things like financing, philanthropy, and the focus is primarily on jobs and reskilling, affordable housing, health and small businesses.”

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

Biden: "No question" Delta variant is to blame for poor jobs report

President Joe Biden speaking at the White House on Sept. 2. Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

There is "no question" that the Delta variant is to blame for the disappointing August jobs report, President Biden said in remarks on Friday, a fact that he argued underscores the importance of continuing to vaccinate Americans and passing his economic agenda.

Why it matters: The U.S. economy added only 235,000 jobs last month, significantly lower than what economists expected in part because of the surge in new coronavirus cases driven by the Delta variant.

Updated Sep 3, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

What Minnesota's biggest employers are offering for parental leave

Photo: Karen Bleier via Getty Images

Parental leave policies vary widely depending on which Minnesota organization you work for.

Axios Twin Cities polled some of the biggest employers in the metro's private sector to see what they offer.

  • Hint: It's good to sell Cheerios.

Why it matters: It's a job seekers' market and talented professionals planning a family will weigh the generosity of a company's parental leave policy in deciding to take a position.

Below are responses by company representatives, unless otherwise noted.

Note: If your company is missing from the list, drop us a line and we'll add it in. Some firms didn't respond or declined to respond to Axios.

3M Co. (14,065 Minnesota employees)

Mothers and fathers of newborn or newly adopted children are entitled to up to 20 weeks (10 weeks paid and 10 weeks unpaid) of parental leave in the U.S. This is a benefit that they are eligible for from the first day of employment.

Allina Health (28,751 Minnesota employees)

Allina recently announced a new paid caregiver policy that provides up to two weeks of paid time off each year for eligible staff to spend time caring for immediate family members having serious health issues or to care for and bond with a new child.

Ameriprise Financial (4,842 Minnesota employees)

Women who deliver a baby are eligible for 16 weeks of paid time off to care for their new child or children. Ameriprise offers a two-week paid parental leave to birth, adoptive and foster parents who have worked for the company for more than six months.

Best Buy Co. Inc. (9,000 Minnesota employees)

Best Buy provides up to six weeks of time off at 100% of base pay. It allows full-time benefits-eligible employees to take a leave of absence for their own medical condition, such as needing a surgery or for mental health, without an interruption in pay.

  • This is in addition to a caregiver pay benefit, which is four weeks of full pay for those who need to care for a spouse/domestic partner, parent, children under the age of 18, siblings, in-laws, grandchildren, grandparents and children 18 or older.
  • Best Buy has some other benefits, like $14,080 in adoption expense reimbursement and up to $10,000 lifetime for infertility treatments.
General Mills (3,000 Minnesota employees, per Biz Journal)

General Mills offers fully paid time off for new birth mothers for 18 to 20 weeks, and 12 weeks parental leave (for fathers, partners and adoptive parents).

Land O'Lakes (2,000 Minnesota employees)

Birth moms are eligible for a maternity leave of eight weeks, as well as four weeks of paid parental leave.

  • Four weeks of paid parental leave is also offered to all new adoptive and birth parents — a benefit that can be taken within one year of the birth or the adoption.
Medtronic (10,463 Minnesota employees)

Employees are eligible for up to 16 weeks of paid time away to care for a new child.

  • Six weeks of family leave can also be used to care for a parent, spouse, or child with a serious health condition, and for bereavement following the death of spouse/domestic partner, child or parent.
  • Birth mothers get another six to eight weeks fully paid.
  • Mothers who complete a healthy pregnancy program can get another two weeks paid.
  • Medtronic also offers reimbursement of $25,000 per child (up to $50,000) for adoption, surrogacy and third-party reproduction expenses.
Target (24,000 Minnesota employees)

Target in 2019 doubled its parental leave benefits, but did not specify how many weeks.

  • CNBC reported the new policy provides "up to four weeks paid time off annually to care for a newborn or sick family member. New moms at Target will get an additional six to eight weeks of paid maternity leave, too."
UnitedHealth Group (18,000 Minnesota employees)

UnitedHealth Group offers four weeks of paid parental leave following the birth of a child or adoption.

  • In addition, UHG offers an employer sponsored/paid short-term disability benefit, which is income replacement for maternity leave for six weeks, or eight weeks following a cesarean delivery. This benefit is 60% paid by UHG, and employees have the option to buy-up an additional 20% for an 80% benefit. This means employees can secure paid coverage for up to 10-12 weeks.
United Natural Foods Inc., including Cub Foods (8,781 Minnesota employees)

UNFI offers four weeks of paid parental leave for mothers and fathers, including adoption. It also offers one week of maternity disability leave or one week of paid adoption leave (for mothers and fathers). It offers five to seven weeks of short-term disability leave for birth mothers.

  • Of note: This is for non-union employees.
U.S. Bank (13,400 Minnesota employees)

Provides 13 weeks of paid leave (a combination of pregnancy disability leave and parental leave) to the birth parent and four weeks of paid parental leave to non-birth parents.

Wells Fargo (17,000 Minnesota employees)

Provides up to 16 weeks of paid leave for a primary caregiver, and up to four weeks for a parent who isn’t the primary caregiver, to care for a new child following birth or adoption. Eligibility begins after 12 months of service.

Xcel Energy (5,456 employees, according to the Biz Journal)

In addition to six to eight weeks of paid maternity leave, Xcel offers an additional four weeks of paid time off to help parents bond with their new child, whether through birth, adoption or fostering.

  • It also offers adoption assistance services, which reimburses employees for eligible expenses up to $2,000.

Declined: North Memorial, M Health Fairview, and Life Time Inc. declined to participate by the deadline.

  • Health Partners did not respond to Axios emails.

Of note: Axios offers 12 weeks of paid parental leave for a primary caregivers following the birth or adoption of a child. Secondary caregivers get four weeks.

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