The cost of caregiving on women’s lifetime earnings now has a number: $295,000.

A new report released Thursday by the Department of Labor projects how caregiving for children and parents affects women over the course of their careers, eating into their retirement savings and costing them wages and promotions.

The research projected the lifetime employment costs brought on by unpaid family care for women born between 1981 and 1985, now entering their early 40s, who have already taken on care for their children and will likely care for their parents, parents-in-law and spouses. The estimate is adjusted for inflation and is in 2021 dollars.

These figures, which appear in a report commissioned by the department’s Women’s Bureau, have not been estimated before.

“At some point in our lives we all need care, and women often provide this care in our families. And while family care may be priceless, that does not mean that there’s no cost to those providing it,” said Wendy Chun-Hoon, the director of the Women’s Bureau, during a call with reporters.

The report focused on women because they are the most likely to provide unpaid caregiving: In 2021, 66 percent of women with children younger than age 6 participated in the labor force, compared with 94 percent of men with children younger than 6, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau does not collect any data on nonbinary people.

The numbers are still very likely an undercount, the Women’s Bureau said. Because of limitations in the data, the research excludes care for adults with disabilities and caregiving costs unrelated to employment, such as the cost of day care and the emotional impact of caregiving.

Of the $295,000 figure, 80 percent is attributed to lost earnings due to caregiving and 20 percent is lost retirement income as a result of lower wages. The majority of the loss in wages comes from caring for children. Care for other adults totals only 15 percent of the costs, researchers found, because women are less likely to reduce their employment to provide it.

Read the full article about caregiving costs by Chabeli Carrazana at The 19th.