Examine exhibits working moms exhausting hit by pandemic-related youngster care burdens Capitolnewsillinois.com

Alison Dickson University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Senior Instructor and co-author of a new report, The Child Care Crisis in Illinois: A Survey of Working Mothers During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Photo by L. Brian Stauffer, news.illinois.edu )

Tuesday May 4th 2021

Almost half of the state’s working mothers lost their jobs and worked fewer hours amid a pandemic

Capitol News Illinois
[email protected]

SPRINGFIELD – New research shows pandemic stress on childcare has increased economic inequalities among women in the Illinois workforce.

This research was included in the Illinois Childcare Crisis: A Survey of Working Mothers During the COVID-19 Pandemic, conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Economic Policy Institute’s nonprofit research organization.

A data review in this report found that female labor force participation in January 2021 hit 57 percent nationally, its lowest level in more than three decades.

One of the key findings, according to the researchers, was that 40 percent of working mothers who were employed at the start of the pandemic were unemployed or had fewer hours due to the pandemic.

From August to October 2020, researchers surveyed around 1,300 working mothers who were employed from March 2020. Respondents limited themselves to working women who provided residence to at least one child under the age of 13 and earned $ 150,000 per year or less.

According to researchers, that sample only provides a glimpse of the state’s childcare crisis when you consider that 1.6 million Illinois workers have at least one child aged 13 or younger – that’s the childcare age population. The report shows that almost 500,000 children attend day care centers or state-approved family homes.

The closings of schools and daycare centers during the pandemic played an important role in reducing job performance, working hours and loss of income for working mothers, according to respondents.

As a single working mother herself, Alison Dickson, senior instructor and co-author of the UIUC, said the study was a reflection of her lived experiences.

“We knew things were going to go bad and that the women we interviewed would have significant trouble, but I think it’s a lot worse than many of us expected,” said Dickson.

Dickson has a son and works from home, but she said many of her friends are also single, working mothers and have no longer available childcare options due to closings.

“I inevitably had four children in my house for four months last year,” said Dickson. “While my situation was not nearly as bad, in relative terms, as so many of the women’s stories we caught in the survey, I feel like any mother who has had to deal with these childcare closures across the income spectrum and at all Occupations still tried to keep their jobs instead of taking vacations. “

The average annual cost of childcare for an infant is about $ 13,800 and for a four year old about $ 10,400.

“Illinois childcare costs are the 10th highest in the nation and competing annual tuition at public colleges and universities in the state,” said Frank Manzo, ILEPI political director and co-author of the study.

Working mothers with high childcare costs were 10 percent less likely to be employed and 24 percent more likely to report having lost income compared to other working mothers, the survey shows.

The survey found that 55 percent of working mothers worked fewer hours and 54 percent earned less income during the pandemic. The pressures hit women of skin color particularly hard, Manzo said, referring to survey results.

“Women have offset these income losses by … delaying rent and mortgage payments, spending less on groceries, withdrawing from their savings accounts, and delaying medical treatment,” added Manzo. “Just a lot of different ways to make up for lost income, but ways that negatively impact diet, health and retirement have long-term effects.”

Before the pandemic, there was a gender employment gap of 3 percent between women of working age without children (72 percent employed) and men without children of working age (75 percent employed), according to the Illinois study. For working-age parents, however, that gap widened to 21 percent, with 93 percent of fathers employed, compared with 72 percent of mothers.

Manzo said the first step in addressing these issues facing working mothers is to make childcare affordable through policy changes.

He recommends doubling the government’s childcare support program to cover more families at a relatively affordable cost. He also suggests that the state could introduce its own refundable childcare tax credit, similar to one that is currently under scrutiny at the federal level.

“That would translate into over $ 1,000 annual tax relief for more than 700,000 working families per year and increase employment by 29,000 jobs,” said Manzo. “As well as one possible policy option, targeted assistance to low-income families and universal childcare tax credits, would expand access to quality, affordable childcare.”

Access to paid family vacations is also important, he said. In some cases, working mothers have continued to have access to paid family and medical leave, Manzo said. Similar guidelines already exist in other countries.

In the current legislature, House Bill 74, sponsored by Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, which required private employers to give an employee six weeks of paid vacation for various family and medical reasons, missed a deadline to vote out the House and join a committee Get stuck.

At the federal level, President Joe Biden’s proposed American family plan could provide paid vacation and cut childcare costs for working families. If passed as proposed, the plan will provide 12 weeks of paid vacation for workers who meet certain income requirements.

“One of the key provisions of this proposal, however, is to extend the child tax credit, which pays $ 300 a month for children under six and a lesser amount each month for other children,” Manzo said. “The amount credited to each family is an additional $ 7 billion in income that enables working mothers and working families to afford childcare costs.”

Capitol News Illinois is a not for profit, impartial news service that covers the state government and is distributed to more than 400 newspapers nationwide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

The Chicago Auto Show will return in July as the state prepares for the return of major events

Comments are closed.