Lack of childcare services keeps record number of parents out of work

Lack of childcare services keeps record number of parents out of work

The number of people unable to report to work last month due to child care issues has climbed to the highest since the government tracked the data, Abha Bhattarai reports in The Washington Post.

Why is it important: The data underscores how important childcare is to a functioning economy, especially at a time – like this “tripledemic” fall – when more and more people are falling ill.

What happened: October saw rising levels of respiratory disease in children, more COVID, more flu. So parents have taken time off to care for sick children – in workplaces that are still understaffed in many cases.

  • “Workplaces are reporting unfilled shifts and lost income as employees call for long periods,” Bhattarai writes.

Yes, but: These are small numbers compared to the size of the entire US workforce. Yet they represent a growing problem.

Meanwhile, adults caring for children while parents work get sick too. When that happens, parents—again—can’t go to work.

  • Some schools were so understaffed due to worker illnesses that they had to close temporarily, the Post reports.
  • More generally, the child care sector is still struggling with labor shortages, making it more likely that parents will stay home if something goes wrong.

The plot: There is now a much broader debate about the causes of declining worker productivity in the United States

  • Some argue that the problem is that so many people have recently changed jobs and continue to catch up on the job. The WSJ recently reported that COVID and a growing number of sick workers are also playing a role.

The bottom line: The childcare piece of the puzzle should not be overlooked.

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