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Childcare Issues Costs Michigan Economy $2.8B

September 12, 2023

A report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation points to childcare as a means of getting working parents to return to the job market and pointed to the importance to businesses.

The Untapped Potential in Michigan Report stated issues with childcare in the state have resulted in an estimated $2.88 billion annual loss for the Michigan economy because of missed work, which equates to an extra $576 million in tax revenue annually. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the July labor force participation rate in Michigan at 61%.

“Staffing this industry is a challenge. It is a job on top of a job,” said Big Steps Little Feet Operations Director Jessica White-Hatinger.

Michigan Chamber of Commerce President Jim Holcomb said the report would help businesses and schools better understand how important childcare is to the state’s workforce.

The report was based off a statewide survey of 501 parents with children under age six.  It found 14% had left a job in the past six months because of childcare and 52% needed to make significant adjustments to work or school because of childcare in the past year. There were 63% who had missed work or school at least once in the past three months because of childcare.

“No Michigander should have to choose between being a good parent or being a good worker. When parents lose out on career advancement and educational opportunities, their kids lose out, too,” said Early Childhood Investment Corporation CEO Dawne Bell.

Michigan Chamber Director of Legislative Affairs Leah Robinson said the state has an above-average healthcare and manufacturing workforce where remote work isn’t an option.

To address the issues left, the report did not point to one area that would need help through policy, legislation, or other funding.

“We’re looking at legislative solutions and partnerships, whether that be leading childcare groups or other business organizations or colleges and universities. We’re looking to do that with our support groups within our healthcare coalitions,” Robinson said.

One of the partnerships pointed to was the Tri-Share pilot program, which was launched in 2021. The program has employees, employers and the state government splitting the cost of childcare.

That program, and many other early childcare and childhood education programs, would be under the new Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential, or MiLEAP.

The report asked for ways to allow businesses to pool resources to build or expand childcare centers to provide more spaces for employee families.

“Building a stronger Michigan for all requires innovative approaches and collaboration to address workforce challenges,” Holcomb said.

Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter


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