New report shows childcare issues result in an estimated $1.36 billion loss annually to Utah’s economy

Parents have long known that childcare disruptions impact more than just a family’s daily schedule.

In fact, a new report United Way of Salt Lake partnered to release found that childcare issues cost parents’ career advancement and higher education opportunities. Disruptions in childcare also result in an estimated $1.36 billion loss annually to Utah’s economy.

“The barriers created by the current state of childcare in Utah are a reality parents have faced alone for far too long. When parents lose out on career advancement and educational opportunities, their kids lose out too,” said Bill Crim, United Way of Sat Lake President & CEO.

Partners standing at press conferenceUWSL worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Salt Lake Chamber, Utah Community Builders, and Voices for Utah Children to release the report, titled Untapped Potential in Utah. The goal of conducting the research was to better understand the economic impact childcare has on families, businesses, and our state.

The report outlines how often parents with children under six leave the workforce or educational opportunities because of insufficient childcare, as well as how often they miss work or school due to those issues.

“I was working full-time until I gave birth three months ago. I’m a college graduate but the job that I had did not pay enough to cover the expenses of childcare,” a Utah mom interviewed for the report shared. “If I continue to work, I would be making only enough to pay for childcare with nothing left over. All our family members work as well so there’s no one that could watch the baby for free.”

The research found that most working parents pick their daycare based on affordability. In the majority of Utah counties, households pay between 10 and 20 percent of their annual income for a child to attend Center Licensed care, according to data from the Utah Department of Workforce Services Office of Childcare.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • Utah loses an estimated $258 million annually in tax revenue due to childcare issues
  • 26% of parents have changed their childcare arrangement due to COVID-19
  • In Utah, families pay an average of $561 per month for childcare
  • 48% of parents needed to make a significant adjustment to their school or work training due to childcare issues in the past 12 months

Findings showed the crucial role childcare plays in Utah’s economic infrastructure and the massive toll insufficient daycare has on businesses and the economy.

When childcare is up in the air for parents, working parents will compromise their future for the immediacy of care for their kids. The research paints a clear picture that access to childcare weighs heavily on a parent’s professional development, and short and long-term financial stability.

Derek Miller, President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, shared how integral childcare is to the state’s economic success and stability in the state’s business community.

Volunteer teacher and students“Utah is a state that champions industry, and also family, and this requires innovative approaches to address our workforce challenges,” Miller said at a press conference releasing the report. “By understanding the needs of parents and working to find public and private solutions, Utah will be better equipped to unlock the economic potential of parents whose employment and educational options are currently limited by their childcare circumstances.”

UWSL and the report’s partners are calling for collaborative and cross-industry solutions to better address childcare for Utah parents. Partnerships between early education advocates and the business community are vital to ensure that Utah’s children, families, businesses, and economy are strong.

“This report shows how important finding a lasting solution is for the sake of Utah families, as well as our state’s employers and economy as a whole,” Crim said.

There are a number of funding requests and bills that are being debated this session that will help the childcare sector. You can stay up to date on what we are supporting by signing up for our Policy Matters newsletter and action alerts. Addressing the persistent issues in childcare will take years to address, and we need everyone to join us in pushing for solutions that support children and families.

*Cicero Group conducted a statewide survey of 307 Utah parents with children under the age of six, who are not yet in kindergarten. The purpose of the survey was to gauge the current state of childcare in Utah, understand parents’ motivations for their childcare arrangement, and inform stakeholders of the economic cost to the state and its employers.


By Kelly Schmidt, Content Writer for United Way of Salt Lake