After-school child care and date nights are hitting parents in the pocketbook more than ever before.
According to UrbanSitter, a company that helps families find and book child care and other household help, babysitting rates increased by 11% in 2021, outpacing last year’s 7% jump in consumer prices as inflation reached a 40-year high.
The national average rate for child care is $20.57 an hour for one child, $23.25 an hour for two and $24.35 an hour for three. New York City has the highest average rates ($23.45 an hour for one child), followed by the San Francisco area ($23.32) and Seattle ($21.23).
Lynn Perkins, chief executive officer of UrbanSitter, told TODAY that a swirl of factors contributed to the significant increase in child care costs. (For context, babysitting rates rose just 3.9% from 2019 to 2020.) She said the overall labor shortage is having an impact, as is the transition many employees have made toward work that feels safer and less stressful during a global pandemic.
“Over the past two years (we’ve seen) a big increase in nurses, teachers (and) early childhood education specialists leaving those roles,” Perkins told TODAY. “As they’re coming into the child care field and working for families one on one, they’re able to charge a much higher rate because they’re bringing this set of skills with them.”
Perkins noted that the pandemic has laid bare just how challenging it is for so many families to juggle jobs and caregiving. That stress has prompted a disproportionate number of women to leave their jobs altogether.
“This care crisis has been given (an) elevated status that it didn’t have before,” she said. “My hope is that with that elevated status, we’ll start to see more government subsidies, state subsidies. We are seeing a big increase in employer subsidies where companies are realizing that in order to retain their employees, they need to help offset this cost of child care ...
“I’m actually excited to see that people who are filling these care provider roles are getting paid the wage that they deserve. Where I think we have a disconnect is that we’re hitting a spot where families can’t afford this care.”
Perkins offered some tips for parents who don’t have access to subsidies and other financial support and who are struggling with the burden of child care costs. One big piece of advice: Team up with another local family and share the same caregiver.
“That will really decrease the cost per hour,” she noted.
Perkins also suggested seeking out graduate students or retirees who might be looking for a bit of extra income on the side.
“They may be less concerned about making the top dollar,” she said. “I think you can get creative and you can find really talented individuals to take care of your family.”
To calculate national babysitter rates for 2022, UrbanSitter analyzed booking data from more than 10,000 families across the country. Here is an overview of child care rates and rates for other kinds of household help by city: