Research / BFI Working PaperApr 18, 2020

Childcare Obligations Will Constrain Many Workers When Reopening the US Economy

Most states and cities in the U.S. have shut all non-essential businesses in response to COVID-19. In this note, we argue that as policies are developed to “re-open” the economy and send people back to work, strategies for childcare arrangements, such as re-opening schools and daycares, will be important. Substantial fractions of the U.S. labor force have children at home and will likely face obstacles to returning to work if childcare options remain closed. Younger workers, who might be able to return to work earlier to the extent that they are less susceptible to the virus, are also more likely to require childcare arrangements in order to return to work. Using 2018 data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, we calculate the share of employed households who are affected by childcare constraints.

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