The COVID-19 pandemic shed light on challenges that have long plagued the US childcare industry. State legislatures have recently intervened by enacting bills to address the scarcity of childcare services. For example, in April 2022, the Iowa state legislature passed a bill allowing 16-year-olds to work without adult supervision and adult workers to watch more children at one time.
The FRED graph above shows the number of employed women (25 to 54 years old) and the number of childcare workers, indexed to 100 in February 2020. Because women are more likely to be responsible for childcare in the household, the comparison between female employment and childcare employment proves interesting.
The level of employment in childcare declined much more than the level of employment of women in March and April 2020 due to the closure of childcare centers. While employment in childcare still has not recovered from its decline, women’s employment has surpassed its February 2020 level.
But the graph shows us something more: The slope of the recovery of childcare employment is slightly steeper than the slope of women’s employment; thus, the gap between women’s and childcare services employment is narrowing. Will the remaining recovery of childcare services be associated with further increases in women’s employment? As more state and federal legislation on the childcare industry is enacted, it will be interesting to track how these employment levels interact.
How this graph was created: Search FRED for “Employment Level – 25-54 Yrs., Women.” Next, click the “Edit Graph” button and use the “Add Line” tab to add “All Employees, Child Care Services.” Select “Edit Lines” and change “Units” to “Index (Scale value to 100 for chosen date).” Next, select “2020-02-01” as the date to equal 100 for your custom index and “Copy to all.” Finally, enter “2020-01-01” to “2023-02-01” above the figure on the right to adjust the time period.