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Gender “Quit” Gap Widest in States With Most Child Care Breakdowns

Resource February 18, 2022

Nationwide, women are quitting their jobs at a higher rate than men. That gender quit gap is widest in the states with the most child care disruptions, according to a new report from the payroll company Gusto. 

According to the analysis: 

  • In January 2022, 4.1% of women quit their jobs, compared to 3.4% of men.
  • States with among the highest rates of child care disruptions, such as Maine and Rhode Island, saw women leaving the workforce at a 1.7% higher rate than men. 
  • States with some of the lowest rates of child care disruptions saw no gap in quits rates between men and women in January.         
  • A one percent increase in the portion of households facing child care closures was correlated with a 0.06 percentage point increase in the gap between men and women’s quit rates. 
  • Recent economic research has found that mothers suffered significant labor market setbacks at the onset of the pandemic due to school closures, and the inability to safely maintain child care options during this wave risks a further holdup of the economic recovery of this group of workers and of the recovery of the U.S. economy as a whole.
  • One study from 2018 found that once Washington, D.C. started offering tuition free preschool, the presence of women with children younger than 5 in the workforce jumped from 65 percent to more than 76 percent, with most of that growth attributed to the availability of universal preschool. 

“Finding and affording quality child care shouldn’t be the reason mothers are forced to leave their jobs,” said First Five Years Fund (FFYF) Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “But, as we’ve seen, America’s child care crisis is disproportionately affecting women — moms in particular. Parents should be able to make the choice that’s right for them and if a mom decides she wants to stay home she should be able to – not forced to because there’s a lack of stable and affordable options. I am hopeful lawmakers will be able to address this crisis, for the economy and parents alike.“

What this means for our economy: 

  • Child care gaps result in massive economic losses for states. Annually child care issues result in estimated losses ranging from hundreds of millions to almost $10 billion.
  • Today, 26.8 million people — 16% of the U.S. workforce — rely on child care in order to do their jobs, but the supply of quality child care has not kept up with the significant rise in demand over the years. 
  • Pre-pandemic, over 30% of Americans were living in a child care desert with only one available child care spot for every three children in need of care. 
  • Since the start of the pandemic, 15,856 providers have closed their doors, only making it harder for parents to find the care they need. 
  • 1 in 3 parents across the country with kids under 5 say they are having serious problems finding child care or preschool options for their children. 
  • Nationwide, child care programs that have been able to remain open report operating at an average enrollment rate of just 71% of their licensed capacity, significantly impacting parents’ ability to find care.

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