High Quality Child Care Is Out of Reach for Working Families

Source: Elise Gould and Tanyell Cooke, Economic Policy Institute, Issue Brief #404, October 6, 2015

From the introduction and key findings:
In recent decades most Americans have endured stagnant hourly pay, despite significant economy-wide income growth (Bivens and Mishel 2015). In essence, only a fraction of overall economic growth is trickling down to typical households. There is no silver bullet for ensuring ordinary Americans share in the country’s prosperity; instead, it will take a range of policies. Some should give workers more leverage in the labor market, and some should expand social insurance and public investments to boost incomes. An obvious example of the latter is helping American families cope with the high cost of child care. ….

This paper uses a number of benchmarks to gauge the affordability of child care across the country. It begins by explaining how child care costs fit into EPI’s basic family budget thresholds, which measure the income families need in order to attain a modest yet adequate standard of living in 618 communities. The report then compares child care costs to state minimum wages and public college tuition. Finally, to determine how child care costs differ by location and family composition, the paper reconstructs budgets for two-parent, two-child families in 10 locations to include the higher cost of infant care, compares these families’ child care costs to those of families without infants, and compares costs for both family types with metro area median incomes.
Key findings include:
– Child care costs account for a significant portion of family budgets. ….
– Child care is particularly unaffordable for minimum-wage workers. ….
– Other salient benchmarks highlight the extremely high costs of child care. ….
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