In today’s incredibly depressing news, American parents who rent their living space spend nearly as much on daycare as they do on their housing payment. According to a new analysis, the average cost of child care in the U.S. is $1,385 a month. The median rent payment is $1,500 a month — a difference of just $115.
I own my home and for a few years, I had two kids in full-time facility daycare. The costs were staggering — around $2,000 a month. That’s almost double my mortgage payment, so if it were one child, the HotPad analysis of Care.com’s Care Index would be totally accurate. Which is beyond disheartening when you factor in the 45 hours per week I was away from my children only to spend double my housing payment in daycare costs.
HotPad says more than a third of renters have kids at home, which means there’s plenty of folks out there balancing the rising cost of child care with the rising cost of having a place to live, because of course, the median rent across the U.S. went up 2.3 percent in the last year and daycare rose 1.3 percent. I’m no economist, but even a relatively modest raise in pay at most jobs probably won’t make a huge dent in that — a yearly financial dilemma, for sure.
But the average child care bill and the average rent being within spitting distance of each other is actually not the worst of it — in over a quarter of 48 metro areas analyzed, child care costs more than rent. For example, Pittsburgh-area renters spend an average of $255 more on a monthly basis for daycare than rent. That’s the biggest difference of any area analyzed, but in cities like Memphis, Louisville, Oklahoma City, and Buffalo, N.Y. renters can still expect child care to cost them an average of $155 more than rent.
Joshua Clark, an economist at HotPads, says, “As rents and child care costs march steadily higher, keeping up with these rising costs may be one of many factors keeping parents up at night. Rent appreciation has slowed from recent highs, but as the economic recovery matures, child care costs will likely continue to rise. For renters with young children in child care, that means any potential savings from softer rent appreciation could quickly be eroded from higher childcare expenses.”
The issue of high rent disproportionately hurts families, as HotPads reports that rent for two and three-bedroom rentals is rising faster than places with just one bed. That means parents with little ones, a situation that usually requires an extra bedroom or two, feel the hurt in their wallet.
This awful info comes on the heels of finding out that nearly half of Americans struggle to afford housing, food, and other basic needs. Donald Trump is fond of patting himself on the back for the “booming” economy, but it looks like we’re largely still not doing so hot. There’s nothing great about a country where parents have to panic about making rent while also paying the babysitter.