Why This Matters

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 In the US, public and private policies that affect working parents are based on an outdated model: a two-parent household, with one parent who works outside the home for pay.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.

75% of moms
50% of dads

Fifty percent of US fathers say they’ve passed up work opportunities, switched jobs, or quit to care for their children.

48% of fathers and 38% of mothers
are considering quitting their jobs because they want more flexibility.Footnote # 3

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.

Hourly workers make up 58 percent of the workforceFootnote # 7 and one in five children live in low-income families.Footnote # 8  Low-income workers are:

  • 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
Show 18 footnotes
  1. Hemez, Paul and Chanell Washington. Percentage and Number of Children Living With Two Parents Has Dropped Since 1968. United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/04/number-of-children-living-only-with-their-mothers-has-doubled-in-past-50-years.html#:~:text=In%201968%2C%2085%25%20of%20children,that%20has%20doubled%20since%201968 Return to footnote #1 referrer
  2. Delfino, Devon. Places With the Most Stay-at-Home Parents. Magnify Money. March 22, 2021. https://www.magnifymoney.com/blog/news/stay-at-home-parents-study/ Return to footnote #2 referrer
  3. De Smet, Aaron et al. “Married to the job no more: Craving flexibility, parents are quitting to get it. McKinsey and Company. December 3, 2021. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/married-to-the-job-no-more-craving-flexibility-parents-are-quitting-to-get-it Return to footnote #3 referrer
  4. Paid leave means a stronger North Carolina. National Partnership for Women and Families. February 2022. https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-work/resources/economic-justice/paid-leave/paid-leave-means-a-stronger-north-carolina.pdf Return to footnote #4 referrer
  5. Without Adequate Child Care, North Carolina Families, Businesses, and Our State Lose $2.4 Billion Each Year. North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. December 2020. https://buildthefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Infograph_RebuildChildCareTogether_FINAL.pdf Return to footnote #5 referrer
  6. Without Adequate Child Care, North Carolina Families, Businesses, and Our State Lose $2.4 Billion Each Year. North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. December 2020. https://buildthefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Infograph_RebuildChildCareTogether_FINAL.pdf Return to footnote #6 referrer
  7. Characteristics of minimum wage workers, 2019. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. April 2020. https://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/minimum-wage/2019/home.htm Return to footnote #7 referrer
  8. Kids Count Data Center. https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/10381-low-income-working-families-with-children#detailed/1/any/false/1729,37,871,870,573,869,36,868,867,133/any/20052,20053 Return to footnote #8 referrer
  9. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to and Use of Paid Family and Medical Leave. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2019. https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2019/article/racial-and-ethnic-disparities-in-access-to-and-use-of-paid-family-and-medical-leave.htm Return to footnote #9 referrer
  10. Gould, Elise and and Heidi Shierholz. Not everybody can work from home. Economic Policy Institute. March 19, 2020. https://www.epi.org/blog/black-and-hispanic-workers-are-much-less-likely-to-be-able-to-work-from-home/ Return to footnote #10 referrer
  11. Characteristics of minimum wage workers, 2020. Bureau of Labor Statistics. February 2021. https://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/minimum-wage/2020/home.htm Return to footnote #11 referrer
  12. Sweeney, Dawn and Fernand Fernandez. Hispanic hospitality is helping the American economy. The Hill. September 27, 2018. https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/408772-hispanic-hospitality-is-helping-the-american-economy Return to footnote #12 referrer
  13. Hispanics and Latinos in Industries and Occupations. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2015. https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2015/hispanics-and-latinos-in-industries-and-occupations.htm Return to footnote #13 referrer
  14. Jones, Charisse. Paycheck or caring for family? Without paid leave, people of color often must make the impossible choice. USA Today. March 24, 2021.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2021/03/19/paid-leave-shortfall-during-covid-means-job-pay-losses/4730902001/ Return to footnote #14 referrer
  15. Morse, Anne. Fewer Babies Born in December and January But Number Started to Rise in March. September 21, 2021. U.S. Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/09/united-states-births-declined-during-the-pandemic.html Return to footnote #15 referrer
  16. Joughin, Charles. Our Child Care System is not Meeting the Needs of Families, Providers, or The Economy. First Five Years Fund. June 28, 2021. https://www.ffyf.org/our-child-care-system-is-not-meeting-the-needs-of-families-providers-or-the-economy/ Return to footnote #16 referrer
  17. Lutz, Wolfgang and Nicholas Gailey. Depopulation as a Policy Challenge in the Context of Global Demographic Trends. United Nations Population Fund. October 2020. https://eeca.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/depopulation20as20a20policy20challenge.pdf Return to footnote #17 referrer
  18. Vollset, Emil et al. Fertility, mortality, migration, and population scenarios for 195 countries and territories from 2017 to 2100: a forecasting analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study. The Lancet. July 14, 2020. https://www.thelancet.com/article/S0140-6736(20)30677-2/fulltext Return to footnote #18 referrer