Parents are taking more sick days than at height of pandemic

More than 100,000 Americans missed work in October due to child care problems, an all-time high that exceeds absences recorded in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Washington Post reported Nov. 15.

Worker productivity — a measure of goods and services an employee can produce in an hour — posted the sharpest plunge on record in the first half of this year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The new federal data comes as a storm of viral infections exacerbates staffing shortages at schools and day care centers. Compared to pre-pandemic staffing levels, public schools are short by nearly 300,000 workers and day cares are down 88,000 workers, according to The Post

Working parents find themselves in the difficult position of balancing sick children, school closures and workplace demands.

"We have sick kids at the same time we have a child-care crisis — you put the two together and there just isn't any wiggle room," Diane Swonk, chief economist at KPMG, told The Post. "People are falling through the cracks. It means missed paychecks, disruptions at home, and staffing shortages that erode productivity growth and increase costs at a time when we're already worried about those things."

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