Families Have Changed.
But family-friendly policies have lagged behind. In the US, public and private policies that affect working parents are based on an outdated model: a two-parent household, with one parent who works outside the home for pay. Today, only 70 percent of households include two parentsFootnote # 1, and only 3.4 percent of all North Carolina families—single-parent and two-parent—have a stay-at-home parent who cares for children full time.Footnote # 2
That means the vast majority of families must work in a system that was created for a bygone era. Here’s what that looks like for working parents and employers across the country.
As parents struggle to balance work and family obligations, employers are losing out.
Seventy-five percent of US mothers say they’ve passed up work opportunities, switched jobs, or quit to care for their children.
Fifty percent of US fathers say they’ve passed up work opportunities, switched jobs, or quit to care for their children.
The struggle is real, and working parents are in a bind.
Just one in five of North Carolina workers have access to paid family leave.Footnote # 4
On average, families in North Carolina pay nearly 41 percent more for child care than for rent, and families with one infant and one toddler spend one third of their income on child care.Footnote # 5 The US Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable child care as care that costs no more than seven percent of a family’s income.
Up to 5 million more workers would join the labor force if US businesses offered more family-friendly benefits like paid parental leave. And access to adequate child care for all NC families would add $2.4 billion each year to our state economy. Footnote # 5
Hourly and low-wage workers are impacted the most.
- less likely to have access to family-friendly benefits,
- less likely to be able to afford unpaid leave or child care, and
- more likely to drop out of the labor force after giving birth.
Workers who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color face less access to family-friendly benefits.
- Hispanic workers have significantly less accessFootnote # 9 to paid leave, and Black and Hispanic workers are significantly less likely to have the ability to telework.Footnote # 10
- The leisure and hospitality industry, which includes restaurants and hotels, employs the highest percentage of low-wage workers.Footnote # 11 One in four restaurant workers is HispanicFootnote # 12, and 22 percent of all leisure and hospitality employees are Hispanic or Latino.Footnote # 13
- Nearly double the percentage of Latina and Black women have had to take unpaid time off work to care for children than men or any race or ethnicity or white women.Footnote # 14
These disparities for low-wage employees and Black, Indigenous and People of Color significantly and disproportionately affect their health, economic security and economic mobility.
Working families struggle → declining birth rate → smaller future labor force
- The U.S. fertility has steadily declined every year since 2008.Footnote # 15
- In 2019, 72 percent of parentsFootnote # 16 who did not intend to have a child because of financial reasons said child care costs significantly influenced their decision
- When the fertility rate falls below replacement level, the population grows older and shrinks Footnote # 17, which can slow economic growth.Footnote # 18