Why This Matters

Families Have Changed.

But family-friendly policies have lagged behind. Many US and employer policies are based on an outdated model: a two-parent household, with one parent who works outside the home for pay. Today, only 68.9 percent of households include two parents1, and only nine percent of all families—single-parent and two-parent—have one parent who cares for children full time.

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.2

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.3

Nearly 40% of parents nationwide say they've

left a job because it lacked flexibility.4

The struggle is real and includes working parents in North Carolina.

  • 13%

    Only 13 percent of private industry workers nationwide have access to paid parental leave,5 and nearly a quarter of moms return to work just two weeks after having a baby.

  • 11%

    Only 11 percent of private sector workers in the South Atlantic region, which encompasses North Carolina, have access to paid family leave.6

  • 33%

    1 in 3 families nationwide spend 20% or more of their annual household income on child care7 and North Carolina is the 11th least affordable state in the country for preschool-age child care.8

Up to 5 million more workers would join the labor force if US businesses offered more family-friendly benefits like paid parental leave.9

Hourly and low-wage workers are impacted the most.

Hourly workers make up 59% of the workforce10 but are

  • less likely to have access to family-friendly benefits
  • less likely to be able to afford unpaid leave or child care
  • more likely to drop out of the labor force after giving birth.11

Roughly 6 million American parents work in jobs that pay $10.50 or less per hour.

Low-wage employees have the least access to family-friendly policies, which has significantly and disproportionately affected their health and economic security.12,13

Working families struggle → declining birth rate → smaller future labor force

The US birth rate has dropped to an all-time low, which economists warn will affect long-term economic growth.14

Why are Americans having fewer babies?15

64% of adults say it’s because child care is too expensive.

77% say it’s because they have no access to or not enough paid leave.

Show 15 footnotes
  1. Wang. Wendy. “The Majority of U.S. Children Still Live in Two-Parent Families.” The Institute for Family Studies. October 4, 2018. https://ifstudies.org/blog/the-majority-of-us-children-still-live-in-two-parent-families.
  2. Craighill, Peyton and Danielle Paquette. “The surprising number of parents scaling back at work to care for kids.” The Washington Post. August 6, 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/the-surprising-number-of-moms-and-dads-scaling-back-at-work-to-care-for-their-kids/2015/08/06/c7134c50-3ab7-11e5-b3ac-8a79bc44e5e2_story.html?utm_term=.bd7035932210.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Miller, Stephen. “Parents Rank Flextime Ahead of Salary.” August 17, 2016. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/parents-rank-flextime-above-salary.aspx.
  5. Donovan, Sarah A. “Paid Family Leave in the United States.” Congressional Research Service. Updated September 12, 2018. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44835.pdf.
  6. N.C. Families Care. “Get the Facts on Family Leave Insurance.” http://www.ncfamiliescare.org/familyleave.
  7. Care.com. “This is how much child care costs in 2018.” July 27, 2018. https://www.care.com/c/stories/2423/how-much-does-child-care-cost/.
  8. North Carolina Child Care Resource & Referral Center. http://childcarerrnc.org/s.php?subpage=ChallengesforWorkingFamilies.
  9. Gonzalez, Guadalupe. “Report: Poor Parental Leave Policies Keep Millions out of US Workforce.” Inc. Nov. 14, 2018. https://www.inc.com/guadalupe-gonzalez/federal-reserve-san-francisco-us-parental-leave-policies-more-workers-labor-force.html
  10. Robaton, Anna. “Most Americans are Hourly Workers.” CBS News. February 17, 2017. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/most-americans-are-hourly-workers/.
  11. Sharrett, Luke. “Salaried or hourly? The gaps in family-friendly policies begin to close.” Denver Business Journal. January 24, 2018. https://www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2018/01/24/salaried-or-hourly-the-gaps-in-family-friendly.html.
  12. National Partnership for Women and Families. “Raising Expectations: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help Working Family Caregivers.” September 2018. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/research-library/work-family/raising-expectations-2018.pdf.
  13. National Women’s Law Center. “Set up to fail: when low-wage work jeopardizes parents’ and children’s success.” June 2016. https://nwlc-ciw49tixgw5lbab.stackpathdns.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/FINAL-Set-Up-To-Fail-When-Low-Wage-Work-Jeopardizes-Parents%E2%80%99-and-Children%E2%80%99s-Success.pdf
  14. Brueck, Hilary. “The US birth rate has hit an all-time low, fueling fears of a ‘demographic time bomb’- but women over 40 are a big exception.” Business Insider. May 18, 2018. https://www.businessinsider.com/us-birth-rate-hit-all-time-low-demographic-time-bomb-2018-5.
  15. Cain Miller, Claire. “Americans are Having Fewer Babies. They Told Us Why.” The New York Times. July 5, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/05/upshot/americans-are-having-fewer-babies-they-told-us-why.html.