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Child-Care Costs Sideline Workers

Many lower-income Americans who left the labor force during the pandemic remain out of work due to the high cost of child care, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What’s going on: “An estimated 380,000 Americans in their prime working years, aged 25 to 54, held jobs before the pandemic but no longer did late last year, according to estimates from Bank of America. Bank economists said the lack of affordable and quality child care is a significant factor.”

  • The majority—approximately 74%—of these “missing workers” were in the bottom two income quintiles. Most of those were in the restaurant and retail sectors.
  • The findings are in line with those of a recent study by the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education affiliate, the Manufacturing Institute, and insurer Colonial Life, which revealed that lack of access to child care was a top challenge cited by female workers.

Why it’s important: In the past few years, as more people in their prime working years have dropped out of the labor force, job openings in manufacturing have increased sharply.

However … The number of women in manufacturing reached new heights this year, with 3.77 million workers, according to NAM calculations based on BLS data. 

The last word: “With the sector averaging over 800,000 open jobs every month in the past year, manufacturers are looking at all of the ways to remove barriers to work,” said MI President Carolyn Lee. “Improving access to child care is becoming a bigger priority.” 

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