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Child care crisis pushes US mothers out of the labor force
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Angela Wynn had just launched her own project management business, hitting a career stride after years of struggle that began with earning an undergraduate degree as a single mother.
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Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, forcing many schools to shift online. The now-married mother of five saw little choice but to give up her newly minted business to help three of her children cope with remote learning while her husband, the primary breadwinner, kept his job at a senior living center.
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“To see all that come to fruition, I did it, but now it’s gone,” said Wynn, who has always been the main caretaker for her children, ages 1, 5, 11, 12 and 18. “But my priority is my kids and their education is everything.”
Wynn’s story is becoming distressingly common. Research is increasingly pointing to a retreat of working mothers from the U.S. labor force as the pandemic leaves parents with few child care options and the added burden of navigating distance learning.
The trend threatens the financial stability of families in the near-term. In the long-term, the crisis could stall — if not reverse — decades of hard-fought gains by working women who are still far from achieving labor force parity with men.