Child care shortage hurts women in the workforce

September showed an overall job growth decline in the U.S., with the number of women on payrolls falling for the first time since December 2020. The child care shortage may be a driving factor for this, the Los Angeles Times reported Oct. 10.

The delta variant surge has caused many schools to revert to virtual learning and has led more children to spend time at home quarantining. For younger children still, many day care centers have been closed and understaffed. COVID-19 cases in children rose by almost 1 million in September, according to the LA Times. This hits working parents hard, especially women who still shoulder most of the burden of child care. 

The payroll declines hit the healthcare and education industries hard, both of which traditionally employ largely women. There were declines in participation rates for white, Black and Hispanic women, but the unemployment rate among Black and Hispanic women remains higher than that of white women. The pandemic hit those communities particularly hard, both medically and economically. 

"When it comes to the conflation of two big trends that would depress participation, Black and Hispanic women stand at the intersection," Nela Richardson, PhD, chief economist at ADP Research Institute, told the LA Times.

The potential coming Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 may offer a respite if authorized for emergency use in coming weeks.

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