The Economic Impact of Child Care by State

Child care is not just an issue for working parents, it affects the U.S. economy. Most Americans participating in the workforce also have children and, at some point in their careers, will need access to child care (whether formal, such as a day care facility, or informal, such as with a family member). A lack of affordable and reliable child care can make it challenging to participate in the workforce, especially so for Black mothers.

Child Care Data: Fact Sheets for All 50 States

Several paper fact sheets, fanned out

Prepared by researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, these fact sheets include child care affordability estimates, data on the percentage of single parents, labor force participation rates (that is, the share of the civilian population that is working or looking for a job) and statistics about workforce-related struggles facing child care providers. Data are available for all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Snapshot: Child Care and the U.S. Economy

Here are key U.S. child care and labor force statistics at a glance for 2021. Data are sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (via IPUMS CPS), U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (via IPUMS USA), Child Care Technical Assistance Network, Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and the authors’ calculations.

Infographic: Statistics on child care industry, parents and workforce. Detailed text description below

Child care is a key workforce support.

  • Fifty-three percent of adults ages 25-54 working in the U.S. are working parents.
  • Thirty-seven percent of those parents have young children.

Access to child care is especially critical for Black mothers.

  • Sixty-two percent of Black mothers in the U.S. with young children are single parents, compared with 38% of Latina mothers with young children and 21% of white mothers with young children.

Young parenthood boosts men’s participation in the workforce but depresses women’s participation in the workforce.

  • Of childless American women and men, 79% and 84%, respectively, participate in the U.S. labor force.
  • Corresponding labor force participation figures are 67% for mothers with young children and 94% for fathers with young children.

High child care costs challenge families with young children.

  • The average cost of child care in the U.S. is $10,900 per child per year.
  • The average cost of child care in the U.S. is 15% of median household income.

The child care industry is struggling.

  • The child care workforce decreased by 11% in the U.S. since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic through December 2021.
  • Over this period, 98,200 workers have left the industry.

Regional Economy: Child Care in the Eighth Federal Reserve District

The St. Louis Fed serves all of Arkansas and portions of six other states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Below are fact sheets for states in our District.

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