A new survey of Ohio parents and registered voters found that lack of access to affordable childcare is a major burden keeping parents, especially mothers, out of the workforce.

Sixty percent of non-working or part-time working mothers in the state would go back to work if they had access to quality childcare at a reasonable cost, according to a new statewide survey by national political polling firm Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of advocacy group Groundwork Ohio.

The survey of 800 registered voters, including 400 parents with children younger than 5, also found that 43% of Ohio’s working parents have had to cut back on hours in in order to care for their children this year.

Nearly half of parents with young children have had “serious problems meeting work (and) family responsibilities, serious problems affording childcare or serious programs with childcare that have impacted their work,” according to the survey.

“The pandemic in many ways has been a tipping point for Ohio families, especially among working parents with children under 5,” Public Opinion Strategies said in a briefing memo. “In an environment where labor shortages are pervasive across the state/country, childcare has become an economic issue.”

The survey comes as more Central Ohio and statewide economists and officials are sounding the alarm about how childcare issues are holding back the economy.

Ohio economists have said the labor force participation rate hasn’t recovered because women are still missing from the workforce. The workforce participation rate for women is about 56%; it hasn’t been that low since the 1980s, according to the BLS.

In a recent Columbus Business First cover story, we reported that community leaders say the childcare issues in Central Ohio have reached a crisis point.

“The childcare system we had was already broken,” said Lisa Courtice, CEO of United Way of Central Ohio. “Now it has taken so many hits and it’s unstable. This is a workforce issue.”

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther called childcare issues “one of the great threats to our economic growth as a region.”

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