Report | December 13, 2021

Female Labor Force Participation Is Key to California’s Economic Recovery

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

The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted women’s employment. In the first quarter of 2021, female workforce participation nationwide was at its lowest rate in more than 30 years, and is not expected to fully rebound to pre-pandemic levels until late 2024. Returning women to work is key to California’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.

It’s critical that we make sure that employers, child care providers, and working parents are supported by policy solutions that address child care as a whole.

Sylvia Susie Duarte, President Antelope Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

A new ReadyNation national survey of more than 400 senior business leaders in California found that, while about 84 percent of employers are likely to expand child care supports offered to their employees post-COVID, many cited barriers to doing so. Eighty percent 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 state’s economy to stabilize and thrive, ensuring working family’s access to affordable, quality child care must be of paramount concern. Business leaders and policymakers must partner to address the child care crisis and return women to work.

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