WASHINGTON—A new survey of Americans receiving unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 crisis finds that caregiving responsibilities have increased, caregiving is a major hindrance to getting back to work, and paid leave could help ease the return to the workforce for millions.
The Bipartisan Policy Center-Morning Consult survey of 1,500 unemployment insurance recipients discovered that a quarter of those receiving UI benefits—roughly 8 million workers—spend most of their time caring for a loved one.
“With school and child care facilities likely to remain closed throughout the fall, families face more uncertainty than ever,” says BPC Fellow Adrienne Schweer. “Among parents who are not actively looking for jobs, 59% cite caregiving as the reason why. Caregiving responsibilities due to school closures are particularly pronounced among minority parents: 55% of Hispanic and 44% of Black parents on UI are not planning to or did not accept an offer to return to work due to caregiving needs.”
The pandemic has decimated the patchwork of supports that working parents had in place to balance work and family. “Expanding the emergency paid sick and family leave policies will allow employers and workers the flexibility to cope with virus outbreaks, support unprecedented caregiving responsibilities, and keep people healthy,” says BPC Fellow Abby McCloskey.
As Congress crafts the next COVID-19 relief package, BPC believes expanding the emergency paid family leave provisions should be a top priority. Specifically, lawmakers should lift the 500-employee cap, expand coverage to new parents, and extend the program to June of 2021 to cover a potential second wave of the virus.