High childcare costs threaten women’s progress

Do rising childcare costs continue to pose a risk to post-pandemic gains in female employment?

Headshot of Taylor Bowley

Taylor Bowley

Headshot of David Tinsley

David Tinsley

February 2024

Key takeaways

  • Rising childcare costs pose a risk to women's progress. As the expense has increased over the last several decades, the percentage of women in the workforce has stalled. Further, Bank of America internal data finds that households with childcare payments had a higher 2023 average pay disruption rate from 2019 relative to the total population.
  • An average family's childcare costs were 32% higher in January than the 2019 average, per Bank of America internal data. Though this rise is greatest among higher-income households, a lack of affordability might be limiting access for lower-income families, with Bank of America internal data showing a drop in the share of these customers making childcare payments.
  • Given that childcare responsibilities have traditionally fallen disproportionately on mothers, the rising cost of childcare sparks concern about the progress of women's participation rates in the workforce.

Read our full analysis for a more in-depth look at these trends.