The after-school program industry is expected to experience growth in demand in the coming years, driven by a rise in disposable income and an increasing number of K-12 students. According to IBISWorld, per capita disposable income is anticipated to increase by an annualized 0.8% over the next five years. This growth in disposable income is expected to counter the anticipated rise in unemployment, although lower incomes will continue to strain households already struggling to pay rising tuitions.
As COVID-19 vaccine administration continues and stay-at-home orders are lifted, the labor force participation rate among women is expected to rebound slightly. Job gains in sectors that predominantly employ women, such as leisure and hospitality and food service, have seen gains but remain far below pre-pandemic levels. The ability for women to find and afford childcare, which was already difficult prior to the pandemic, will also pose a significant obstacle for those looking to re-enter the labor force. This represents an opportunity for industry operators as more women are expected to join the workforce.
The number of K-12 students is also projected to increase, which is anticipated to drive demand for after-school programs. According to the Afterschool Alliance, elementary school students currently represent the largest share of children in after-school programs, estimated at 60.0% of all after-school participants in 2020. With unmet demand already at such a high level, the decline in the number of industry operators is expected to decline. Over the five years to 2022, the number of industry establishments is forecast to decline an annualized 0.4% to 141,679.
The benefits of after-school programs will also be important underlying drivers of demand over the next five years. For working parents, after-school programs provide childcare for students when school is out and parents are still at work. Additionally, research has shown that after-school programs benefit children, improving their performance in school and their engagement in learning. For example, annual performance data from 21st CCLC grant recipients across the country have shown that 43.0% of students enrolled in after-school programs improve their reading and 42.0% of students improve their math grades. Students are also more likely to improve their performance on state assessments because after-school programs provide a critical service to parents and have been shown to improve student performance, leading to an increase in demand for industry services over the next five years.
*Source: IBISWorld – Industry Report OD5884 – After-School Program Providers
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