Affordable, Available Childcare Would Improve Workforce

It is a regular occurrence to hear people complain about the lack of good workers available in Chautauqua County.

Addiction issues are often blamed, but we wonder how many people want to work but can’t afford to because they have children.

On average, child care costs between $140 and $190 a week in Chautauqua County. That’s less than the state average, which is good because New York was among the five states with the least affordable child care in the country in 2016, according to a study published on The same study said that 85 percent of people wished their employer offered child care and 65 percent of parents said the current tax deduction wasn’t enough. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced another child care tax credit in 2017, but what happens when people aren’t working and can’t claim the tax credit?

According to five-year estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, the median family income in Chautauqua County is $54,131 a year, or $1,040 a week. It is easier for those households to absorb between $140 and $190 a week than it is for non-family households scraping by on a median income of $24,893, or $478 a week. It isn’t a stretch to say lack of child care that they can afford is a reason why some people choose to stay home rather than get a job.

Chautauqua County can’t control global economic trends or national regulations that have decimated the local jobs market. But local officials and businesses can create a child care atmosphere that encourages more people to work. Perhaps that’s a goal we should hear more about during this election season.