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Child care now costs more than housing in all 50 states

Child care now costs more than housing in all 50 states


A child-care crisis, spurred by a bigger affordability crisis in general, is unfolding on many Americans.

The average cost of child care for two children, which the majority of American families have, is greater than the average price of rent in all 50 states in the country, according to a new report by the nonprofit Child Care Aware of America, which also found the price of child care is more expensive than the average mortgage payment in 45 states. 

The country is in the midst of a child-care crisis, with systemic problems—including the soaring price of child care, low wages for child-care providers, inadequate federal funding, and the pandemic, which left 16,000 child-care providers with shuttered doors—rendering the child-care market broken. It’s alarming, considering how scant paid parental leave benefits are and how crucial high-quality child care is for childrens’ emotional and academic development.

When it comes to affordability, there are a few general rules of thumb to consider. Housing is considered affordable if it costs no more than 30% of a household’s income, and according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, affordable child care should cost no more than 7% of a household’s income. Yet, half of Americans spend over 30% of their incomes on housing, and the share of people spending over 7% of their incomes on child care is sizable, too. 

According to the report, affording the current cost of care for just one child would require 10% of a married household’s income and 32% of a single parent’s income. The actual price people are paying in child care is often higher, too, since most households have more than one child, according to Census Bureau data. These costs are so high that the price of child care is now equivalent or higher than rent in every state in the country. 

In New York, the typical monthly cost of child care for two children is $2,634, while the typical cost of housing is $2,451, according to a family budget calculator by the Economic Policy Institute, which estimates the costs of living around the country. In Greensboro, North Carolina, childcare for two children costs an average of $1,182 each month, while housing costs $1,039 monthly, according to the EPI’s calculator; and in even Cottle County, Texas, one of the cheapest housing markets in the country, the monthly price of child care averages to $968, while housing costs $826 monthly. 

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