I'm in @UpshotNYT today looking at a burning question: how many parents are out of the labor force in America now due to COVID-related school closures?

TL;DR: Probably anywhere from 800,000 - 1.6 million, overwhelmingly mothers. /1 https://twitter.com/UpshotNYT/status/1321769270808842240
An important asterisk upfront: I cannot distinguish between areas where it's the *school closures* that are binding (that is, where it's possible for schools to safely reopen), and areas where it's the *virus* that's binding (where school reopenings would be unsafe & futile). /2
So it's important not to think of these as estimates of what would happen if we reopened schools regardless of conditions on the ground.

Rather, I think of COVID as hurting the economy through lots of different channels, and this is a sizing of one in particular. /3
Moving on...

One way we might think about the impacts of COVID on parental labor outcomes is just to look at differences since pre-COVID periods, say February.

Doing that shows the participation rate for mothers of school-age (5-17) kids is down -3.3pp, -1.3pp for fathers. /4
This graph is unpublished but the difference in the monthly LFPR dynamics between parents and nonparent is glaring, and note that this data is seasonally-adjusted. /5
The differences since February suggest -900,000 fewer mothers of school-age kids in the labor force, and -300,000 fewer fathers.

We can also just look at parents saying they're out of the labor force due to "home/family care". That's still 700K mothers and 150K fathers. /6
But just taking a simple difference since February isn't entirely satisfying. Those numbers could be too high--parents may be leaving the labor force for reasons unrelated to school closures... /7
...Or they may be too low--maternal labor force participation in particular had been rising pre-COVID, so perhaps it would have continued doing so in the months since February.

Can we bring any other data to bear on this question? Yes. /8
The @uscensusbureau Household Pulse Survey, which has been conducted since May, asks parents whether their kid's school has closed and/or gone remote. Back in May, schools were disrupted almost universally across the US. But in September, there's a lot more variation. /9
I exploit that variation by looking at the same individuals over the Jun-Sep months of 2020 and 2019 in the Current Population Survey.

I incorporate two comparisons: how did parents perform over the summer of 2020 versus 2019, *and* how did they perform versus nonparents? /10
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