The Center for American Progress (CAP) has a tool that helps users calculate the financial loss from leaving the workforce. And the numbers are pretty grim, especially for mothers who are abandoning their careers to care for their children during the coronavirus pandemic. A recent Fortune article uses the CAP calculator for the following example:
35-year-old woman who makes $100,000 and takes a two-year break from the workforce loses not just $200,000 in salary, but $134,524 in lost wage growth and $111,767 in lost retirement asset benefits for a total loss of $446,291. If she extends that break to five years she stands to lose $1,020,936.
The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated existing issues in America's child care system, including access and affordability. Ongoing school closures and safety restrictions have resulted in the loss of essential support for families, and mothers are being forced to quit their jobs and, in some cases, shutter their own businesses to stay home with their kids. The burden is even heavier for minority moms, who already have limited resources and support compared to white mothers.
Michael Madowitz, the economist who developed the CAP calculator, says women’s employment and labor force participation rates haven't been this low since 1986. He adds, “Whether it’s the push of job loss, the pull of care at home, or both, U.S. policy failures in 2020 risk a lost generation of women’s careers.”