As a company submerged in the world of child care, we know how vital child care providers are to our economy. Child care is essential for working parents. Additionally, students who attend high quality child care facilities early in life develop stronger skills, are less likely to require special education classes, and are more likely to earn higher wages and have fewer interactions with the justice system as adults.
With an ongoing pandemic and an upcoming election, what does that mean for the future of child care? The answer relies on Millennials and Gen Z.
Millennials make up roughly 35% of the workforce, which makes their generation the largest generation in the U.S. labor force (source). Gen Z, while up and coming into the workforce, is reported as the hardest hit for job loss before and during the pandemic (source). The child care industry should look to these two generations to understand where the industry is headed.
Where do the younger generation’s priorities lie?
- According to Next100 and GenForward, 81 percent of young adults (in these two generations) believe that access to affordable, high-quality child care is an important issue.
- 72 percent of respondents said that the lack of high-quality child care programs and their cost is a barrier to achieving their professional goals.
- This data is confirmed by the United States Census Bureau, which finds that one in five of working adults said they are not working is because COVID-19 disrupted their child care arrangements.
- Of those not working, women ages 25-44 are almost three times as likely as men to not be working due to child care demands.
- Millennials have also been slower to establish households than previous generations have been. They tend to get married and have children later in life. However, Millennials now make up the majority of annual U.S. births. If this trend continues into Gen Z, Millennials and Gen Z will be a topic of the child care industry for years to come.
How does cost factor in?
- More than half of families report that they spend at least $10,000 per year on child care.
- Many spend close to 24,000 per year on child care, nearly half of the average family income in the U.S.
- With younger generations coming out of college and into the workforce with increasing student loan debt and rising rent prices, it stands to reason that the cost of child care would be a large factor in an employment decision.
How could the election affect the future of child care?
- Child care is a topic that transcends party lines. Young Democrats, Republicans and Independents all agree that child care is important. 86 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Independents identified child care as an important issue.
- A whopping 92 percent of those surveyed from Care.com indicated that child care is a topic they feel should get more attention from the government as a result of the pandemic. 71 percent of families say that child care policies will impact how they vote in the upcoming election.
- The Child Care is Essential Act, the Child Care for Working Families act and presidential candidate Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan could potentially add millions of dollars into the child care industry, expanding access for millions of families.
Younger generations are coming into the workforce and creating families in massive numbers. This means that Millennials and Gen Z’s employment decisions will be dependent on the child care industry for the foreseeable future. With COVID-19 and job loss among this demographic, cost and accessibility will be huge issues for those re-joining the workforce. These groups are now having families, so it’s no surprise that they will demand more affordable and accessible care. In an upcoming election year, the future of child care will be a hot topic with one of the largest groups of voting age.