Report | July 28, 2021

Female Labor Force Participation Is Key To Our Economic Recovery

Policymakers and business leaders must partner to address the child care crisis and return women to work

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women’s employment, with female workforce participation at its lowest rate in more than 30 years. Returning women to work is key to our nation’s economic recovery. Lack of child care was an important driver of women exiting the workforce, as both schools and child care providers closed, and many mothers left work to care for their children.

Access to quality child care is key to women returning to work, especially in hospitality and tourism industries, which boast a significant female labor force.


A new ReadyNation national survey of more than 400 senior business leaders found that, while about two-thirds of employers are likely to expand child care supports offered to their employees post-COVID, many cited barriers to doing so. More than three-quarters of respondents said that federal or state government incentives, including tax credits, would increase the likelihood that their company would expand the child care supports offered to employees. However, businesses alone cannot solve the child care crisis. Employer incentives must be coupled with robust public investments, including subsidies to families with low incomes and direct assistance to child care providers. For our economy to stabilize and thrive, access to affordable, quality child care for working families must be a paramount concern. Business leaders and policymakers must partner to address the child care crisis and return women to work.

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