The average cost to raise a child to 17 in America is over $233,000, according to the Expenditures on Children by Families report completed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The primary components of this are housing, food, and childcare. Across the country, the number varies, both because of cost of living, and income.
Using data from the EPI’s Family Budget Calculator, 24/7 Wall St. identified the metro area where families pay the least for child care. Metro areas are ranked on estimated child care expenditure in 2022 for two children, age four and eight.
Among the metro areas we looked at, estimated average child care costs range from $11,493 down to $8,321. Without exception, every metro are considered is in the South.
As is often the case with factors that affect cost of living, child care costs appear to be driven in part by what parents can afford.
The cheapest city for child care is Hattiesburg, MS. Here are the details:
> Est. annual child care costs (2 children): $8,321
> Median family income: $58,430 – 25th lowest of 376 metros
> Share of population under age 15: 20.0% – 85th highest of 376 metros
> Share of households occupied by families: 67.6% – 79th highest of 376 metros
Methodology: To determine the metro area with the lowest child care costs for a family of four, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the Economic Policy Institute’s 2022 Family Budget Calculator.
In the Family Budget Calculator, the EPI 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 4-year-old child and one school-age child.
We used the 384 metropolitan statistical areas as delineated by the United States Office of Management and Budget and used by the Census Bureau as our definition of metros.
Metro areas are ranked based on the EPI’s annual child care cost estimates. Additional information on median family income, the share of the population that is under the age of 15, and the share of households that are occupied by families are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. Because the Census Bureau didn’t release one-year estimates for 2020 due to data collection issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all ACS data are five-year estimates.
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