Could child care be the economic turnaround stimulus we need?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median hourly wages of child care workers were $9.12 in May 2008. They are among the lowest paid workers in the United States, says NACCRRA, the National  Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. Only 20 of 821 occupations reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have lower average wages than child care workers.

Yet child care means business!

Child care in North Carolina, for example, generates $1.7 billion in revenue annually and accounts for at least 49,600 jobs—more than real estate, nursing facilities, and chemical manufacturing—according to a study released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development and The North Carolina Partnership for Children, the organization that oversees Smart Start.

Across the U.S. approximately 2.3 million individuals earn a living caring for and educating children under age 5. This includes those working in child care centers as well as paid relatives and friends (family, friend and neighbor care).

In North Carolina alone, 59% of the state’s youngest children are under the watchful eyes of child care providers.

“Businesses rely on employees, and employees rely on quality child care,” said Dr. Olson Huff, M.D., Board Chair of NCPC in a Smart Start press release. “Early education benefits employers now and our entire society in the long-term. We should be investing in, not cutting, programs that strengthen our early care and education system.”

What do you think? Could more—and better—child care be the economic jump start we need?