By Christina Rexrode and Lauren Weber
15 August 2020
Working parents going on six months without school or camp are about to take another hit: rising child-care costs.
Parents with school-age children are hiring sitters or paying for online classes they wouldn’t need if their children were in school. Some are lining up tutors or switching to private schools that plan to open for in-person learning. Parents with younger children are bracing for potentially higher charges at their day cares, which are straining to pay for protective gear and additional cleaning.
Child care and its costs might seem incidental in a global pandemic, but they are integral to the economy. For individual families, higher child-care expenses can range from troublesome to financially debilitating. Rising costs divert money from other purchases or investments, and many working parents said child-care costs prevent them from saving for a home. Yet without child care, parents are less productive at work—not to mention more stressed and tired.
“Here’s the deal,” said Misty Heggeness, an economist who wrote about the pandemic’s effect on working mothers for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “If you care about U.S. economic growth…this should be one of the first areas of concern for you.”
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