Proposed work credit in Georgia would help low-income families pay for childcare, basic necessities

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Women, who make up 48% of the state’s workforce, are nearly 12 times more likely than men to quit their jobs to care for children, and the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed it further more people in care roles that prevent them from earning an income.

However, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute thinks the help could come from House Bill 510, which is sponsored by five Republicans and one Democrat.

Ife Finch Floyd, GBPI’s senior economic justice policy analyst, said this bill Create a state-earned income tax credit that would support economic justice for women, who often bear the bulk of the responsibility for child care, as well as low-income families.

“We see this as a way to help families increase their salaries,” Floyd said. “It would reduce their tax liability and ultimately ensure that they can target those wages to cover the basics they need for their families.”

The pandemic has deepened an existing divide between those who need care and those who provide it, and 80% of caregivers have experienced increased burden and stress due to COVID-19, said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, CEO of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers.

The emotional distress of trying to balance the roles of caregiver and employee, without much support from employers, has become the #1 challenge.

Floyd said she remembers having to take care of her children and take calls at work at the same time.

“It’s incredibly stressful,” Floyd said. “The cost of childcare (is) rising during the pandemic, and in many states some are just finding it may make more sense for their family not to have to work.”

When schools and daycares close, as they did again earlier this year during the spike in cases of the omicron variant, families must adapt.

In Georgia, the average infant care cost for center care is about $8,500 per year, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Floyd said that’s over a year of in-state tuition.

“They have to make some pretty tough decisions about what to do to take care of their kids and also make sure they can pay those bills,” Floyd said.

Essential workers often have jobs without paid sick or medical leave, and young carers of color and those with low education are less likely to have flexibility with employers, she said. declared.

Only about 43% of black workers and 25% of Latino workers have access to paid parental leave, and many people of color cannot afford to take advantage of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, even when they are eligible.

“The FMLA only applies to businesses with 50 or more employees, so some small businesses aren’t required to offer unpaid time off,” Floyd said. “There is also a requirement of 1,250 hours per year that an employee must work to qualify for FMLA leave, so some low-wage workers may not meet the hours requirement.”

Low salaries also contribute to the current shortage of professional carers, which means more family members are being forced into these roles. Georgia’s average hourly wage for professional caregivers in 2020 was $13.84.

A 2020 Workforce Equity Study by Policy Link ranked home health aides the fifth-highest and home health aides the fourth lowest-paying job among the 25 lowest-paying jobs. paid jobs disproportionately occupied by people of color. Only dishwashers, fast food cooks and cafeteria attendants were paid less. Practical nurses were also on the list, ranking 19th.

Research has shown that low pay is often cited as the main reason why 50% of direct care workers quit their job within the first year. They also point to grueling workloads, lack of opportunities for advancement, and little or no health care benefits as additional issues pushing them to quit smoking.

Women small business owners are the drivers of new businesses, job creation and the state’s economy, said Rachel Shanklin, outreach manager for Small Business Majority Georgia. But, despite their enormous contributions, this community is more likely to own businesses and work in fields that don’t pay living wages.

“They are often forced to choose between paying for childcare or saving for a rainy day,” Shanklin said. “The enactment of the Georgia Work Credit will provide targeted and meaningful benefits to women entrepreneurs and their employees, giving them more take home pay and the freedom to cover their basic needs.”

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