If the Senate doesn’t bail out the childcare industry, economists see women leaving the workforce en masse

mother and child

The House recently passed two bills that would provide a combined $100 billion in direct child care funding over the next 5 years, but it’s unclear if either will pass the Republican-led Senate.
Without a bailout, experts say up to 40% of childcare centers will close for good.
Couples who can’t afford to hire a full-time babysitter will have to answer a difficult question: Who sidelines their career to care for the kids?
Multiple economists say that in heterosexual couples, it will be women who leave the workforce, for two reasons: They make less money than men on average, and secondly, they are already more likely to be the one who cares more for the kids.
Those who choose to stay in the workforce will likely prioritize flexibility over career growth, further widening the gender wage gap.
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Affordable and accessible childcare — the underpinning of a functioning US economy that allows parents to work — is hanging by a thread.

On Wednesday, The House passed two bills, the Child Care is Essential Act and the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act. They would provide a combined $100 billion in direct child care funding over the next five years, including $50 billion in immediate pandemic relief.

But it remains to be seen if the Republican-led Senate will pass the legislation. Except for the $2 trillion stimulus package passed in March, the Senate and House have not agreed on spending priorities during the pandemic.

Because of the pandemic, a whopping 40% of childcare providers expect to close permanently unless they get additional public assistance soon, according to a recent survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children of more than 5,000 childcare providers. Without a bailout, the industry won’t recover, multiple providers and industry experts told Business Insider.

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This comes as schools, the other main source of childcare, struggle with reopening plans. Some schools are proposing a hybrid in-person and virtual approach, leaving parents with many questions. How to balance childcare and work? What to do if offices reopen?

Only 17% of parents feel prepared for virtual learning or homeschooling, a new Care.com survey of 2,000 parents shows. And 65% of parents anticipate needing more childcare than they currently have this fall.

“Failure to bail out the child care industry will be a step back to the progress that has been reached by women in the US in terms of the participation in the labor market,” Maria Floro, an economics professor at American University, told Business Insider.

Without a bailout, the childcare crisis will fall on the backs of women and their careers

A very real potential outcome of this crisis, should government aid not pass the Senate, is an exodus of women from the workforce, Matthias Doepke, a highly cited Northwestern economist who recently published an analysis of the gendered effects of the coronavirus pandemic, told Business Insider.

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Source:: Business Insider


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