The Cost of Work-Family Policy Inaction: Quantifying the Costs Families Currently Face as a Result of Lacking U.S. Work-Family Policies

Source: Sarah Jane Glynn and Danielle Corley, Center for American Progress, September 2016

From the summary:
….One of the many costs of the lack of work-family policies is lost wages, which occur when individuals are forced to quit working or must reduce their work hours because they cannot access child care or paid leave. This report quantifies those lost wages to help illustrate and bolster the case that the nation is already incurring burdensome costs by not having work-family policies in place. Families bringing home a new baby or experiencing a serious illness often see their day-to-day expenses increase, making unpaid leave even more burdensome. When workers only have access to unpaid leave, it directly takes money away from families, local communities, and the businesses that rely on consumer spending.

Every year, as our new analysis shows, working families in the United States lose out on at least $28.9 billion in lost wages because they lack access to affordable child care and paid family and medical leave. This hidden cost includes $8.3 billion in lost wages due to a lack of child care and $20.6 billion in lost wages due to a lack of access to paid family and medical leave.

Notably, the costs in lost wages outlined in this report are only the tip of the iceberg. Families face additional costs in terms of depressed future wages and lost savings and retirement security when caregivers take extended time out of the labor force or when parents take lower paying jobs in exchange for greater flexibility—issues which are beyond the scope of this report. And families whose incomes drop when they must take unpaid leave or stop working are significantly more likely to need to rely on public benefits compared with families with paid leave—creating additional costs in government spending…..