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November 30, 2021

Untapped Potential: Economic Impact of Childcare Breakdowns on U.S. States

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation holds the position that childcare is a two-generation workforce issue because it is essential to supporting the workforce of today and vital to developing our workforce of tomorrow. There is not enough access to affordable, quality childcare which makes it difficult for parents trying to enter, re-enter, or stay in the workforce. In addition, the pandemic exacerbates existing issues in the childcare system and creates an impossible situation for parents, employers, and childcare providers. There are working parents who struggle to balance home childcare and work, children who miss valuable educational opportunities, childcare providers who are fighting to stay open and serve their communities, and employers wondering how and when their employees with children can return to work.

Successful solutions can only be reached by jointly addressing gaps across affordability, access, flexibility, and quality.

There have been numerous studies highlighting the developmental benefits of highquality childcare for young children as well as the professional benefits for their parents. Children gain a strong foundation and their parents can pursue careers or enhance their education or vocational skills. When there are breakdowns in the childcare system, it can cause children to miss valuable opportunities and parents may experience disruptions to their work or education. Despite the myriad benefits resulting from high quality childcare, many families are struggling to find viable options for their children. In 2019, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation conducted studies in four states—Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania—to better understand the size of the childcare problem in those communities. The report estimated that each state lost hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity due to breakdowns in childcare. The following year, the U.S. Chamber examined how parents, employers, and providers were responding during the pandemic to childcare choices, workplace situations, and the provision of care. In 2021, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has conducted case studies in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas.

The results indicate there is tremendous untapped economic potential in each state if childcare challenges are solved.






  • Data: Cicero Group
  • Reports: Polygraph Creative