Early Care & Education

Economic Impact

Child care is the foundation of a healthy, thriving economy and economically stable families. Businesses cannot function or be profitable without staff. Parents and caregivers are only able to be productive, reliable employees if they have access to affordable, high-quality child care while they go to work. 

A STAGGERING 86 percent

of working parents are negatively impacted at work due to issues with child care. It is estimated that, even prior to the pandemic, the child care crisis annually costs Wisconsin at least $1.1 billion in lost economic productivity, earnings and revenue. The United States loses an estimated $57 billion a year due to these challenges. 

Employers across Wisconsin

and from a variety of industries recognize the impact accessible and affordable child care has on their employees and business productivity. A 2021 survey found nearly two-thirds of business owners believe it is important for Wisconsin businesses to support child care for their employees. More than 75% of business owners believe the state economy is impacted by families’ ability to access affordable, high-quality child care.


“Our center is very important in our community. We are the only group licensed child care facility in our school district. It is very important because we’re the only one to take on the little ones. And, if we were to close – we didn’t close during COVID – but if we were to have closed, I know I would have put out quite a few families.”


The impact began long before the COVID-19

pandemic began, but the health crisis significantly worsened workforce participation issues, particularly for working mothers. Hundreds of thousands of parents left the paid labor force starting in 2020, many due to lack of child care options. Work absences due to child care issues had long been a trend, but they, too, increased substantially after the pandemic began. 

Dig In Further

Eyeing a Recovery

Women’s labor force participation is key to economic growth. Read more about child care’s impact in this report.

Women and Work

A gender gap disproportionately affects women as child care issues continue to influence employment choices.