Employers and Employees Agree on Need for Child Care in Mississippi
- The Mississippi Economic Council’s yearly state-wide assessment lists childcare as one key challenge for both employers and employees.
- Mississippi’s lack of accessible childcare affects employers and employees and may lead to a less skilled workforce and lowered rates of employee retention.
- Childcare issues result in an estimated $673 million loss annually for Mississippi’s economy.
- Improving access to childcare can boost local economies, increase employee retention, and can help children and families reach their goals.
Every year, the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) conducts a state-wide assessment in order to identify ways of improving the quality of life in Mississippi. Much of the feedback represented in this assessment was collected from engaging local community leaders, businesses, and representatives through online surveys, interviews, and over 50 one-hour sessions MEC held across the state.
This year’s report, titled “Securing Mississippi’s Future: Vision for Economic Growth,” focused primarily on improving the state’s economic growth, workforce retention, and quality of life by finding and addressing the needs and challenges faced by local communities.
How Accessible Childcare Can Make a Difference
The report identified a lack of affordable and accessible childcare as one key challenge to workers. For workers, the lack of accessible childcare may make it more difficult to complete job training and, in some cases, to complete scheduled shifts. As a result, employers may face a more difficult hiring process and lower employee retention.
“The cost of childcare is a significant problem for workers, made harder by lack of availability,” the report stated.
Individuals working in healthcare or manufacturing were identified in MEC’s assessment as facing increased difficulty in completing their overnight shifts due to a lack of after-hours childcare. The report stated that:
“After-hours childcare was identified as a gap during the Hinds County session, as healthcare and manufacturing shift workers face overnight challenges, worrying that arrival of distribution centers (Amazon) would increase problems.”
However, the challenges created from a lack of supportive childcare are more pressing for individuals living in rural areas, women, and low-income workers. The report stated that:
“Rural areas identified more often…childcare impacting workers.”
For individuals living in rural areas, these challenges are likely due to the added barriers of limited transportation and lower wages that are present in those areas of the state. Families that live in rural areas may face additional barriers, such as food insecurity or lack of early education that can make adequate child care all the more necessary. “Mississippi’s Risk & Reach Report,” a data brief developed by the Children’s Foundation of Mississippi (CFM), provides county-by-county profiles that outline additional ways child care can help individuals and families in rural areas of the state.
For women, the lack of accessible childcare may increase their chance of delaying or opting out of entering the workforce in order to care for their children. Doing so has been shown to decrease their earning potential, which may affect their ability to earn higher degrees or complete training, and ultimately slows local economic growth.
The same is true for low-income workers who are unable to afford adequate childcare. They are often met with the tough decision to take time off, leave work early, or otherwise leave the workforce entirely in order to care for their children.
“Childcare is expensive and quality childcare placement is hard – for everyone, but especially lower income workers.”
Mississippi’s Untapped Potential
MEC cites findings from the report, “Untapped Potential: How Childcare Impacts Mississippi’s State Economy,” which was developed in collaboration with CFM and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to further emphasize how childcare impacts the state’s economy:
“… childcare issues result in an estimated $673 million loss annually for Mississippi’s economy. Lack of childcare also impacts Mississippians’ ability to continue their education in a meaningful way to be better prepared to advance in the workforce.”
Additionally, “Securing Mississippi’s Future: Vision for Economic Growth” lists childcare twice in its recommendations to “Develop a World-Class Workforce to Meet the Needs of Today’s Job Market and the Job Opportunities of the Future” and stated:
“Providing quality childcare and early childhood education is essential for ensuring our future workforce is prepared… It also has a significant impact on today’s workforce by giving parents confidence their child is in a good, nurturing environment that allows them to participate in today’s labor market.”
Addressing the gaps created by a lack of adequate and accessible childcare in Mississippi, will help our local communities, businesses, and economies thrive, while also ensuring that the children in our state have the tools they need to achieve their goals.
Ready to help our state reach its full potential? Learn more about the benefits of improving childcare access and hear directly from business and policy leaders on how you can help by attending our event on March 17. You can also check out our data brief, “Untapped Potential: How Child Care Impacts Mississippi’s State Economy,” that lists essential information on how childcare can improve our economy by clicking here.