Nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, working parents are still struggling with a lack of childcare. According to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, around 104,000 Americans in October 2022 reported childcare problems as their main reason for missing work the previous week. Here are the workers hardest hit by childcare problems.
While both men and women report work absences due to childcare issues, women accounted for 82% of all childcare-related absences in November 2022. (The detailed data is noisy, so these charts display 12-month moving averages.) This data shows that women have consistently been a much larger proportion of work absences due to lack of childcare. Between January 2000 and November 2022, women accounted for 85% of all childcare absences reported by parents.
Childcare needs are greater for families with children under the age of 5 — and especially for those with children younger than 2. Parents with children under 5 are about twice as likely to miss work for childcare reasons as people with older kids.
For most of the last 20 years, parents with one child have had childcare-related absences at about the same rate as parents with multiple children. But in October and November, childcare issues caused parents of multiple children to miss work at higher rates.
Before the pandemic, there was little difference between college graduates and those who did not complete college in terms of who is more likely to be absent due to childcare.
While childcare-related absences are higher than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, they remain uncommon: about 1 in 700 parents were absent from a full workweek in October 2022. People were much more likely to miss work for vacation or illness.
The higher percentages of parents missing work this winter also mask another trend: 80% of parents with children under 18 are working. Only four other months in the last 22 years had higher parental employment rates.
Sources & Footnotes
- Census Bureau
Current Population Survey