July 22, 2020

How Child Care Impacts the Coronavirus Recession

July 22, 2020

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During our July 16th webinar, Fall Hiring: Three Scenarios to Plan for Now, Leah Daniels, SVP of Strategy at Appcast, shared a wealth of information and lots of data. Some of the most noteworthy statistics are those that show the link between business reopening and child care.

Leah pointed out that one in three U.S. employees have kids at home. Once you consider the implications of “kids at home,” you can understand the push to reopen schools.

Take a look at these numbers, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

  • U.S. population: 328 million (2019)
  • Working population: 158 million (Feb 2020)
  • Number of US family households: 83 million (2019)
  • Two-adult family households with kids: 35 million (70 million adults)
  • 35.8% of two-adult households have one income: 12.5 million

35 – 12.5 = 22.5 million two-adult households with kids (45 million working adults)

  • Single-parent households: 13.5 million

Actually, that’s more than one in three employees with kids at home. It’s 37% of the workforce.

School daze

School isn’t only the place where children go to learn academics and social skills. It’s the place many working parents rely on for child care. Education professionals may not like this characterization, but the pandemic has revealed it to be the case.

Working parents in every profession have had to adapt to school closures. For some, like essential workers, it has meant relying on furloughed family members for child-care assistance, while they continue to go out to work. For parents who have been able to work from home, it literally has meant “kids at home” as they navigate their other full-time job; plus, they’ve been helping to educate their kids.

Furloughed workers have perhaps had fewer challenges from the standpoint of child care, although anecdotally these parents say they too have struggled with keeping their kids interested in schoolwork, physically active, and socially engaged while social distancing.

Face it, few if any parents have had it easy. In 2020, school days, school days, dear old golden rule days have been replaced with . . . something very different.

After summer comes fall

Currently, as the country tries to reopen for business, decisions about school reopening for the new academic year loom large. And decisions need to be made quickly.

Pew Research Center finds that back-to-school dates vary greatly across the country: anywhere from late July to after Labor Day (early September), with mid-August the most popular time. This means that the start of the school year is already here for some families and right around the corner for others.

For the most part, employers have been supportive of furloughed workers with child-care issues. In general, states have been lenient about unemployment benefits; most have not required people with child-care issues to look for work while schools have remained closed.

But what happens when another school year starts?

On July 13, California’s two largest school districts, Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified, jointly announced they will resume classes next month—except all classes will be held online. The districts, which collectively enroll more than 700,000 students, hope to resume physical classes sometime during the school year, Politico reports. There is no estimate as to when this will happen though, because California continues to experience a surge in coronavirus cases.

How many working parents are affected by this one decision? It’s safe to say hundreds of thousands. How many employers? Probably about the same.

What will fall 2020 bring? Right now, it looks like it depends on your business location. However, since so much this year is subject to sudden change, any assumptions could get tossed out the window in a matter of weeks.

With this in mind, the Appcast July 16 webinar explored three possible scenarios and the factors that may influence each. Check out the webinar recording.

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