october 2021 insider 2 (copy)

Access to child care has been a critical issue for a long time. Many technical colleges, including Fox Valley Technical College, shown here, offer early childhood education programs.

According to a new study, 80 percent of employers think a lack of childcare is having a negative impact on the state’s economy and will dampen hiring until it is addressed.

The report from the Wisconsin Economic Development Institute, Childcare in Wisconsin and its Impact on Workforce and the Economy, shows the scarcity and high cost of childcare is making it increasingly difficult for parents trying to enter, re-enter, or remain in the workforce.

The detailed report, commissioned by WEDI, was prepared by Baker Tilly. Both statewide and locally gathered data were utilized. Alongside data collection, informational interviews of important stakeholders were conducted. Data for the report was collected between October 2022 and February 2023

“Employers across Wisconsin are facing unprecedented hiring challenges, as many workers are choosing to remain out of the workforce, and the WEDI report clearly illustrates one key factor is the lack of employee access to childcare,” said Mary Perry, WEDI Board member and President and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Association. “While childcare remains an important family issue, it is also a critical business issue. It plays a major role in employment decisions made by families, and as a result has a significant impact on employers and business productivity.”

The report reveals that the childcare crisis is affecting the ability of businesses to recruit and retain employees. For example, 58% of Wisconsin employers said that decreased access to quality childcare resulted in difficulty hiring new employees, workers reducing their hours, and employees using more paid and unpaid leave.

Report Highlights:

  • Approximately 4 out of 5 Wisconsin employers say the state economy is impacted by a parent’s access to affordable, high-quality childcare.
  • Two-thirds of employers say childcare is a way to retain valuable employees.
  • The long-term economic impact of Wisconsin’s childcare crisis is estimated at $4.2 billion to $6.4 billion.
  • A typical family with an infant and a 4-year-old spends one-third of their annual income on childcare.
  • In 2022, in the 10-county West Central Wisconsin area, 90% of centers had a wait list with a total of 4,304 children on the wait list.
  • In rural Northern Wisconsin, the 14-county area has gone from 283 regulated childcare programs in 2016 to 184 in 2022 – a 34% reduction in just six years.
  • There are more than three children under age 5 for every one licensed childcare slot.
  • 75% of Wisconsin employers say the state economy is impacted by a parent’s ability to find affordable, high-quality childcare.