The availability of child care is often identified as essential to ensuring that more adults can enter the workforce. But in many places, the service is unaffordable for everyday Americans. And that includes those working in the field itself.
|Some child care teachers are taking a stand for fair wages.|
A report released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) this month found that the median hourly wage for child care workers is $10.31 a hour, nearly 40 percent lower than workers in other occupations. Most of the 1.2 million nearly-all female workers in the field don't receive health insurance or other benefits either.
Elise Gould, EPI's senior economist, said that leaves a lot of workers in the lurch:
While child care is a large expense, it's not because child care workers are overpaid. Despite the critical role they play in the economy, child care workers are some of the lowest-paid workers in the country. We need a bold solution to improve the working conditions of child care workers and make child care accessible at the same time.
As it stands, in 32 states and the District of Columbia, center-based infant care costs are equal to more than a third of a typical preschool worker's earnings. And in 21 states and D.C., non-preschool child care workers would have to spend over half of their annual earnings to pay for center-based infant care.
This is yet another example of the failing American economy. Child
care workers play a necessary role that benefits the entire U.S., but they don't make a wage themselves that allows them to provide for themselves or their families.
Lawmakers need to craft solutions that benefit workers. This nation needs to find a way to allow parents to pursue employment outside the home while paying people a fair wage to engage with our greatest resource -- out future generations.