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Equality
Economics

Child-Care Workers Are Quitting the Industry for Good in the U.S.

Covid-19 exacerbated staff shortages in a sector that often pays less than the local big-box store: “As a society we just haven't valued that work in the way that we do other professionals.”

Sarah Mallett worked at an early childhood facility in Maine for almost nine years before leaving the profession. 

Sarah Mallett worked at an early childhood facility in Maine for almost nine years before leaving the profession. 

Photographer: Tristan Spinski/Bloomberg

Low pay, demanding work and a lack of benefits have driven child-care workers out of the industry for good during the pandemic — creating ripple effects on the rest of the U.S. economy.

Employment in daycare services remains more than 10% below pre-Covid levels, compared with just 1% for the labor market at large. LinkedIn data suggest many of these women — early child-care work is almost entirely done by women — moved to other jobs, primarily in education.