WHAT THE DATA SAY: 25% of paycheck on childcare is the limit, most working parents say

By: Ray Day


Ray Day 

We wanted to share our latest consumer and business insights, based on research from Stagwell. Among the highlights of our weekly consumer sentiment tracking (fielded Feb. 3-5):


Today, 85% of Americans are concerned about the economy and inflation – down 2 points from last week and up from 82% in December. Concerns about job losses, however, are on the rise.

  • 80% worry about a potential U.S. recession (down 2 points)
  • 78% about U.S. crime rates (down 3 points)
  • 72% about political divisiveness (down 3 points)
  • 70% about affording their living expenses (up 4 points)
  • 70% about the War on Ukraine (up 1 point)
  • 57% about a new COVID-19 variant (down 1 point)
  • 45% about losing their jobs (up 3 points)

“Laid off and loving it” is the mood of a small but vocal group of employees caught in the job cuts roiling firms from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, according to our survey with Bloomberg.

  • 18% of Gen Z and 15% of Millennial employees say they would be happy being laid off, more so than their older colleagues (Gen X: 8%, Boomers: 6%).
  • Overall, one in 10 employees say they would feel thankful (9%), relieved (10%) and happy if laid off today (12%).
  • Of those who experienced a layoff in the last year, 42% spent more time with friends and family, on their hobbies (28%) and their physical (26%) and mental health (29%).
  • Most employed Americans (43%) say that, if they were laid off today, they would find another job within three months. Yet that changes across generations, with Boomers (28%) less likely to think so than Gen Z (43%), Millennials (48%) or Gen X (47%).

How much are you willing to spend on childcare before it no longer makes sense to work? Most Americans say an average of $617 a month is fair. Yet, if childcare costs eat away a quarter of their paycheck or more, nearly half of parents with young children under the age of 5 would consider being a stay-at-home parent, according to our survey with Fortune.

  • On average, U.S. families spend an average of 17.8% of their income on childcare.
  • Younger workers are more willing than older Americans to pay more for childcare. And fathers are willing to spend about $100 more per month than mothers ($668 versus $568).
  • More than a third of stay-at-home parents ​​say they left their jobs to care for their children because of financial difficulties in affording childcare (19%) or limited childcare availability (17%).
  • Among former and current stay-at-home parents, 36% say they felt forced into leaving the workforce to care for their children.
  • 87% of Americans say they would continue working if childcare was more accessible – with high agreement across all age groups.
  • 52% of stay-at-home parents with children under the age of 5 believe their careers have been negatively affected by that choice.
  • 68% of both men and women believe mothers are penalized more in the workforce after staying home to care for children.

Americans rely on artificial intelligence to inform everyday consumer choices like movie recommendations and customer service inquiries, yet they draw the line when it comes to trusting AI for high-value applications, such as autonomous vehicles, accessing government benefits and healthcare. Our survey with MITRE also found:

  • 48% of Americans believe AI is safe and secure.
  • 78% are very or somewhat concerned that AI can be used for malicious intent.
  • 82% of Americans and 91% of tech experts support government regulation.
  • 70% of Americans and 92% of tech experts agree that there is a need for industry to invest more in AI assurance measures to protect the public.
  • Three-quarters of Americans are concerned about deepfakes and other AI-generated content.
  • Only 49% would be comfortable having an AI-based online chat for routine medical questions.
  • Similarly, only 49% would be comfortable with the federal government using AI to assist benefits processing.

Most investors are interested in ESG and want their advisors to show them the path forward, based on our survey with Nuveen.

  • 75% of investors older than 21 with at least $100,000 in investable assets see their company ownership as a way to get businesses to address ESG-related risks and opportunities.
  • 57% would be interested in shifting their portfolios to invest only in companies with net-zero emissions.
  • 80% said that companies should be more transparent about ESG issues.
  • 73% said they would be more likely to invest in businesses that are open about their plans for addressing those factors.
  • Last year’s findings from the 2022 Milken Institute Harris Poll Listening Project found that 68% of executives said their company has as much as a quarter of their portfolio dedicated to ESG investments. Yet 32% said their companies lack ESG investments entirely.

In case you missed it, check out some of the thought-leadership and happenings around Stagwell making news:

As always, if helpful, we would be happy to provide more info on any of these data or insights. Please do not hesitate to reach out.


Thank you.




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