Economy

This Is the State Where People Pay the Most for Child Care

The way children spend their time has been turned on its head over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditionally, children went to school most of the day. Often that time was extended by activities, many of which were sports. They came home to parents or people who watched them until their parents came home. In some cases, they were charged with watching themselves.

Children did not go to school for much of the past two years. School was moved online via technologies such as Zoom. Parents faced the challenge of children who stayed home all day and often could not play with friends due to the spread of the virus.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank, a family with two children, age four and eight, is projected to pay an average of $16,659 on child care in 2022. This amount varies across the country, however. In some states, child care costs are far lower than the national average, while in others, families are paying thousands more.

Using data from the EPI’s Family Budget Calculator, 24/7 Wall St. identified the state where families pay the most for child care. States were ranked on estimated child care expenditure in 2022, accounting for likely variations in types of available care between urban and rural areas for two children.

As is often the case with factors that affect costs of living, child care costs appear to be driven in part by what parents can afford. In nearly every state with lower than average child care costs, median family income is below $80,069, the amount the typical American family earns. Similarly, in most states with higher than average child care costs, the median family income is also higher than average.

The state where people pay the most for child care is New York. Here are the details:

  • Estimated annual child care costs: $31,874
  • Median family income: $87,270 (14th highest)
  • Share of population under age 15: 17.3% (11th lowest)
  • Share of households occupied by families: 63.0% (11th lowest)

The EPI’s Family Budget Calculator estimates the annual child care budget necessary for families to maintain a modest yet adequate standard of living. The budgets are created for 10 family types for U.S. counties and metro areas. To estimate child care costs for a family of four, the EPI assumes families consist of a married couple with one four-year-old child and one eight-year-old child.

State-level child care cost estimates were aggregated from the county level using five-year estimates of total households from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey (ACS).

States were ranked based on the EPI’s annual child care cost estimates. Additional information on median family income, the share of the population under the age of 15, and the share of households occupied by families are from the 2020 ACS. Because the Census Bureau did not release one-year estimates for 2020 due to data collection issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all ACS data are five-year estimates.


Click here to see all the states where families pay the most for child care.

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