November 30, 2021 3 min read

New Research Shows Missouri Loses $1.35 Billion in Annual Economic Opportunity Due to Childcare Gaps

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 30, 2021) — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry today released a new report examining the impact of childcare challenges on Missouri’s state economy. The report is part of a broader “Untapped Potential” study of five U.S. states that reveals the cost of childcare challenges and opportunities to unlock economic potential for states, employers, and working parents.

The study found that Missouri misses an estimated $1.35 billion annually for the state’s economy, including a $280 million annual loss in tax revenue, due to childcare issues. Additionally, 28 percent of respondents reported that they or someone in their household has left a job, not taken a job, or greatly changed jobs because of problems with childcare in the last 12 months.

The limited supply of childcare currently does not match high demand, an existing problem made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, working parents have struggled to balance work with childcare needs, faced with childcare options that are too far, too expensive, or that do not fit their needs. Meanwhile, childcare providers have fought to stay operational, and employers have dealt with uncertainty about how and when employees could return to work. All of these contributed to the $1.35 billion in lost revenue for Missouri’s economy and an increasing number of employees being forced to leave the workforce.

“As we work to achieve a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that the availability of workforce is a crucial challenge — with childcare remaining a significant barrier for many Missourians who want to work. This new report brings to light that childcare issues are costing our state more than a billion dollars annually,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “While this is a complex subject, the business community is ready to lead as we explore ways to address childcare challenges and their subsequent impact on our state’s workforce.”

Key findings from the 2021 report include:

  • Childcare gaps result in massive economic losses for Missouri. Childcare issues result in a total estimated loss of $1.35 billion in Missouri, including an estimated $280 million lost annually in tax revenue.
  • Some Missouri parents are leaving their jobs due to childcare issues. Approximately 9 percent of parents surveyed voluntarily left a job due to childcare issues.
  • Childcare issues are significantly affecting parents’ job decisions. Of respondents surveyed, 28 percent reported that they or someone in their household has left a job, not taken a job, or greatly changed jobs because of problems with childcare in the last 12 months.
  • The greatest need is for infant and toddler care. Of parents who voluntarily leave their jobs, 57 percent do so when their child(ren) is two years old or younger.

“While the impact is different in each of these states, these studies show the urgency needed in addressing childcare issues across the country,” said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Center for Education and Workforce. “The challenges in the childcare system are complex, but solvable — and addressing them comprehensively, in ways that consider the needs of parents, businesses, and providers, will be central for the nation’s long-term economic success.”

In 2021, the “Untapped Potential” series is examining these childcare challenges and issues in five U.S. states—Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri, and Texas—building on reports released in 2020 on Iowa, Idaho, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. To access the full reports and other resources, visit:

About U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on the conditions necessary for business and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future. 

About the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the largest business association in Missouri. Together with the Missouri Chamber Federation, the Missouri Chamber represents more than 75,000 employers. To learn more, go to, or follow us @MissouriChamber on Twitter.


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