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Child care crisis is denting the labor market

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Axios, October 2020

New data from the Pew Research Center shows that parents are being hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and as far as job losses go, mothers and fathers are faring equally poorly.

Why it matters: Economists have been warning for months that the pandemic could do long-term damage to the economy as people remain unemployed for longer stretches of time.

  • And the decline of women’s growth as a share of the labor force reverses what had been a broad-based economic tailwind for the U.S.

What’s happening: “[O]ver the first six months of the outbreak, the labor market impact of COVID-19 has similarly affected mothers and fathers, and the wide gulf that exists in the workplace engagement of mothers and fathers persists virtually unchanged,” Pew writes.

  • “The share of mothers and fathers who were employed and at work plunged with the onset of the coronavirus outbreak and had recovered only partially through September 2020.”
  • “The gender gap in September (22 percentage points) is slightly greater than in February (20 points), but a similar gap was also present in September 2019.”

What we’re hearing: “If you want to maximize economic growth, you want all working age adults to be engaged with the labor market at their maximum capacity,” Misty Heggeness, a visiting scholar at the Minneapolis Fed, tells Axios.

  • “We’re cutting ourselves short as a society.”

The big picture: “There is no new normal to this. It just keeps getting worse every day,” says Alicia Modestino, an economics professor at Northeastern University and a former senior economist at the Boston Fed.

Continue reading at Axios.

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