It’s getting tougher to be a working parent during the pandemic, and moms are feeling it more than dads.
As COVID-19 has dragged on, a growing share of working parents say it’s difficult to handle their child-care duties, according to Pew Research Center findings released this week.
Here are the key results
• About half of parents (52%) with children aged 12 and under said in an October 2020 survey conducted by Pew that it’s been a challenge to handle child-care responsibilities during the coronavirus pandemic. That was up from 38% in March 2020, when shutdown orders first closed schools and child-care centers.
• About 6 in 10 parents who are working from home while caring for children 18 and under say it’s been hard to get their work done without interruptions.
• A larger share of mothers (57%) than fathers (47%) say work has gotten harder during the pandemic.
• Working mothers were also more likely than fathers to report that balancing work and parenting responsibilities was having a negative effect on their careers.
• About half (49%) of all employed parents said they “felt like they could not give 100% at work since the outbreak began” and 30% said they needed to reduce their work hours because of child-care demands.
• 54% of moms said they felt like they couldn’t give 100%, compared to 43% of dads; 34% of mothers said they had to reduce their work hours vs. 26% of fathers.
The U.S. jobs landscape
Of course, those who still have a job to worry about are the lucky ones: they’re still employed and many can work from home. Some 57% of working parents told Pew their jobs could not be done remotely; 43% said they had jobs that could be done from home.
The U.S. lost 140,000 jobs in December and the official unemployment rate stands at 6.7%. However, economists believe the actual figure is higher because the official rate doesn’t include about people who left the labor force last year. Nearly 3 million women have left the labor force since February 2020, when COVID-19 began to cripple parts of the economy, according to two economists at the RAND think tank.
Women’s labor force participation rate — the percentage of women who are either working or looking for a job — fell from 57.8% at the beginning of 2020 to 55.3% in May 2020. As of December, it was at 55.9%.
Women have been leaving their jobs in part because of child-care demands and lack of access to affordable child care. Some economists fear the trend could reverse some of the gender equality gains women have made in the workplace.
President Joe Biden’s proposed “rescue plan” for coronavirus relief includes $40 billion for child care providers, as well as tax breaks for families with children. But moving that proposal forward — which also includes a call for increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 — could be a tough sell in a U.S. Senate where Democrats have only a slim majority.