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Economy’s Essential Early Care and Education Industry Recovering but Still Faces Labor Shortfall


Economic Development and Human Capital This article is the first in a series about how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the early care and education workforce and the factors influencing its recovery.

Child care is essential for many working parents to remain in the labor force, especially mothers (and in particular mothers of color ). This was made even more apparent during the pandemic when the early care and education (ECE) industry took a hard hit. Employment in the industry fell sharply by 47 percent at the beginning of the pandemic, and one-third of child care centers remained closed a year into the pandemic. Now that two years have passed since the onset of COVID-19 in the United States, to what extent has the ECE industry recovered from this initial shock?

To answer this question, we analyze monthly data on turnover rates for center-based ECE teachers from 2019 to early 2022. [1] The monthly turnover rate is the share of ECE workers leaving their jobs each month. After a sharp rise during the initial months of the pandemic, we found that the monthly turnover rate of ECE employees quickly returned to its prepandemic level and has largely remained there since. However, […]

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