Back to School 2020: How Remote Learning, Limited Childcare Options Will Impact Hourly Workers This Fall

Even before COVID-19, working Americans were struggling. The average hourly worker has been living paycheck to paycheck for quite some time—and the current economic climate has only exacerbated this insecurity. It’s hard enough dealing with potential hour reductions or furloughs, but when you’re a working parent you have additional economic pressure to face. 

Both salaried and hourly working parents have already undergone so much this year with remote learning in the spring and continue to navigate the challenges and uncertainties around back to school this fall. But hourly workers are typically offered fewer benefits and resources through their place of work. They’re also at a greater risk of losing income due to closures or lost hours.

To better understand how back to school has impacted parents within the hourly workforce, we teamed up with CNBC and conducted a survey of over 2,000 parents who are hourly workers and the unique burdens they’re experiencing at this moment in time. Having to forego daycare or switch to remote learning for kids has meant many parents face the choice of looking after their children or keeping their job. 

Back to School...at a Distance

Across the board, most the vast majority of hourly workers (76.6%) expect their children to participate in some sort of remote learning experience this fall: 

  • Full-time remote learning (47.2%)
  • A blend of part-time classroom instruction and remote learning (29.4%)
  • Less than a fifth (18%) will return to full-time learning 

Most workers don’t have any employer benefits supporting childcare (66.3%), but at least a quarter have flexible hours (25.6%). To help manage the remote learning experience, many will turn to family members for help. Nearly half (47%) will rely on a family member or friend and/or reduce their work hours to support their children this fall.

Remote Learning + Work = Loss of Hours/Income

Over two-thirds (67.6%) believe that it will impact their ability to maintain the same number of hours. But even more anticipate a loss in income, with 80 percent of hourly workers expect to lose a significant amount of income due to lack of childcare or in-person learning. Nearly a third (30.6%) expect to lose more than a quarter of their income. 

And they don’t just anticipate remote learning to decrease their hours, but also their work performance as 73.7% believe that remote learning will or may impact their performance at work, with nearly half (48.4%) anticipating it definitely will. 

Homeroom Teacher: Mom

Most hourly workers expect the mother (61.5%) in their households to bear the responsibilities around remote learning. Only 16.7% expect the father in their household to be responsible. If they had to, over 80% of female hourly workers expect to quit their jobs to supervise their children.

These findings reinforce the many challenges impacting parents and hourly workers during COVID-19, particularly women. Trying to work a full-time job while also caring for young children and/or being responsible for their education is a monumental undertaking. There’s no one answer or solution for schools, parents, students, or employers. But it’s important for employers to be aware and acknowledge these issues, as a bit of flexibility and understanding can go a long way. 


For the full report and results, click here


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