More mothers are self-employed today than before the pandemic – and a dire shortage of childcare workers is largely to blame, a pair of studies show.

The rise in self-employment spiked among mothers who have children under the age of 6, who rely more heavily on childcare providers, according to new research from the Center of Economic and Policy Research.

The study also found self-employed mothers of color and those without a college degree have increased the most.

Altogether, self-employment rose by about 600,000 workers over the past two-and-half years through June 2022, CEPR reports.

More than twice as many working women as men are self-employed, the study showed.

Black and Hispanic women are bearing the brunt of this trend, the study said.

A teacher reading a book to a class of young children.
The childcare workforce has shrunk by 88,000 jobs.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Self-employment among black women rose to 5.2% up from 4.1% pre-pandemic, while the amount of self-employed Hispanic women grew from 6.1% to 7.4%. Self-employed white women grew by .6 percentage points.

Meanwhile, the number of childcare workers has shrunk by 88,000, or 8.4%, from the sector’s pre-pandemic workforce, according to a Sept. 2 study from the Center for American Progress.

No other private sector industry has lost as many workers, CAP reports.

 “The childcare industry was sick before the pandemic, now it’s dying,” Elliot Haspel, an early-childhood policy expert and the author of “Crawling Behind: America’s Childcare Crisis and How to Fix It told Axios. “It’s a failed market, it’s in a death spiral.”

Low wages are the chief reason childcare is in such dire straits, according to the report.

Full-time child care teachers are paid, on average, $14.01 — less than half the wage of kindergarten teachers. And black and Hispanic women are paid even less, at $11.27 and $12.59 per hour, respectively, according to the CAP report.

As a result, more than half of childcare centers say they are serving fewer children than their full capacity because they can’t hire or retain enough workers.

“A childcare workforce operating below capacity significantly affects the overall economy,” according to the report. “As parents struggle to find care for their children, some—most likely mothers—may have to reduce their working hours or drop out of the labor force altogether.”

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