The announcement by Governor Larry Hogan to end the federal subsidies for unemployment disproportionately affects women and people of color. According to Oxfam America, women in Maryland make up 35% of workers making $15 per hour or less. The percentages for people of color are even more daunting with 51.5% of Hispanics, 37.7% of Black people, and 30.5% of Asian people making $15 per hour or less. Compare that to only 27.6% of white people making $15 per hour or less. In Maryland, 57% of the workers making $15 per hour or less are over the age of 25. This negates the myth that only teenagers make under $15 per hour. Because 78.9% of children under the age of 12 have a working mother in Maryland, one can assume that most women who make $15 per hour are mothers.
The average cost of childcare for infants in Maryland is $1,278 per month while childcare for pre-school children (from the ages of 3 to 4) is closer to $855 per month. Even while working 40 hours per week, someone making $15 per hour will only take home $30,000 per year, before taxes and expenses. Childcare for an infant would take between 33-50% of that mother’s income before taxes.
Maryland is the 7th most expensive state in the United States when it comes to childcare. In 2018, the Maryland General Assembly doubled childcare subsidies so presumably these mothers could qualify for subsidies. However, single mothers can only qualify for the subsidy if they have sued their partner for child support. That puts some single mothers in a predicament where they have to spend time and money to sue their significant other.
There are also only 213,960 available slots for childcare in Maryland, but 844,563 who need it. That helps keep the cost of childcare high and the availability for childcare low. In that case, where do women turn?
The Blueprint for Maryland, which Governor Hogan vetoed, would help give children free childcare for children who are 4 years old. Thankfully, the General Assembly overrode that veto, but the Blueprint for Maryland still leaves a gap for mothers who need childcare for children from the age of 6-weeks to 4 years old.
Governor Hogan just announced that he would decline federal unemployment subsidies as of July 1st because he states “they are no longer necessary”. That gives people only approximately 30 days to find a job and find childcare, if necessary. Moms will be scrambling to find jobs and expensive childcare slots that may not exist. This could not come at a worse time for parents. School will be letting out for summer and most parents who qualified for unemployment because their jobs disappeared due to COVID had anticipated utilizing that unemployment plus the federal subsidy to get their kids through the summer until the next school year begins.
That begs the question, why is Governor Hogan targeting women, children and people of color by ending federal unemployment subsidies that were supposed to last until September 6, 2021? Someone should ask him.