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Majority of Families Spend at Least 20% of Household Income on Childcare According to New Care.com Survey

Rising costs impact consumer spending and employment

Austin, TX (June 15, 2022) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers childcare affordable at a reported 7% of annual household income (HHI), but that bears little correlation to what parents are actually spending. According to the Care.com 2022 Cost of Care survey, 51% of families spend 20% or more of their annual HHI on childcare in 2021, up from 31% of families in 2019, and 72% spending at least 10% of their HHI on childcare, up from 70% in 2019. These expenditures are also having a domino effect on the economy with families working, saving, and spending less.

The ninth annual Cost of Care survey from Care.com, the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care, reveals that 58% of families plan to spend more than $10,000 on childcare this year compared to 45% pre-pandemic in 2019. This increase in costs has caused a quarter (25%) of parents to change jobs, slightly more than a quarter (26%) to reduce their work hours and is a likely contributor to causing millions of women to leave the workforce over the course of the pandemic.

“When it comes to childcare, there are three critical criteria – cost, quality and availability – and based on our research findings, we’ve not only failed to make progress as a country, we’ve actually gone backwards,” said Natalie Mayslich, President, Consumer, Care.com. “Costs are growing while availability is shrinking and that’s having a profound impact on the workforce and consumer spending. We’ve all seen what happens when parents can’t work; making childcare more affordable and accessible has to be a priority for all.”


The economic impact of childcare costs

Parents are adjusting significant aspects of their lives to accommodate rising childcare costs, moves that have a broader economic impact. On the work front, of the parents surveyed, 31% are considering taking on a second job, 26% reduced hours at work, 25% have changed jobs, and 21% have left the workforce entirely. When it comes to consumer spending, the majority of families (68%) budget for childcare costs and nearly two-thirds (65%) say they will stay within or under budget. However, nearly all families are scaling back with 91% of respondents reporting having trimmed at least one item to pay for increased childcare costs. Families are reducing budgets for vacations and travel (51%), leisure activities (51%), food and dining (45%), clothing (41%), and extracurriculars (37%). And, not surprisingly, rising childcare costs are even impacting family planning with 35% reporting they’re less likely to have more children, and 43% citing the rising cost of childcare as the main reason.

The pandemic effect

Childcare costs have been on the rise for some time, but the pandemic sparked greater increases in a two-year period than have occurred since 2015. Here is how childcare costs have increased since before the pandemic began in 2019*:

  • Average national weekly nanny rates are $694, up 23% pre-pandemic.
  • Average national weekly childcare center rates are $226, up 5% pre-pandemic.
  • Average national weekly family care center rates are $221, up 10% pre-pandemic.
  • Average national weekly babysitter rates are $261, up 7% pre-pandemic.        

*based on weekly rate for one child

Of the parents surveyed, 56% plan to spend more than $10,000 on childcare this year, up from 45% in 2019. And the pandemic effect is evident beyond cost to availability of care as well, with 43% of parents reporting greater difficulty finding childcare providers over the past year. By care arrangement:

  • 40% are having trouble finding a nanny.
  • 39% are struggling to get care through a family care center.
  • 37% find it challenging to book a babysitter.
  • 36% are facing an uphill battle with finding a quality childcare center.

When asked what they believed was driving the cost increase, the top three reasons cited by parents were increased costs at childcare centers (46%), inflation (41%), and limited availability at childcare centers (36%).

Care.com National Average Weekly Rates*  

 One ChildOne ChildTwo ChildrenTwo Children
  Nanny$565 $694$585 $715
  Childcare center$215$226$409** $429** 
  Family care center$201 $221 $382$420 
  After-school sitter$243 $261 $246 $269 

*All rates are for infant children, except for after-school sitter, which is not age limited.

**Rates for two children calculated by adding the weekly rate for one child and the weekly rate for the second child with a national average sibling discount of 10%.

2022 Cost of care around the country

Top 10 Most Expensive States to Hire a Nanny

StateWeekly Rate$ Above National Avg% Above National Avg
District of Columbia$855$16123%
New York$736$426%
New Jersey$715$213%

Top 10 Most Expensive States to Use a Childcare Center

StateWeekly Rate$ Above National Avg% Above National Avg
District of Columbia$419$19385%
New York$258$3214%

Calculate childcare costs by zip code with the Cost of Care Calculator

The keys to mitigating costs

While more than half (59%) of parents say they’re more concerned about childcare costs now than in years prior, surprisingly, they’re not availing themselves of tools to reduce the expense.

The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit can save parents $600 for one child and $1,200 for two children, yet one-third of parents (34%) did not claim the credit and 43% said they were unaware of it. Accessing this credit requires parents to pay for care legally. In addition, parents can save $2,000 per child using the Child Tax Credit.

Similarly, a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) offered by many employers allows parents to contribute up to $5,000 pre-tax which can be used towards care.

2022 Cost of Care Survey Methodology

This scientific sample of 3,003 US adults (18 years or older) who are all parents paying for professional childcare was surveyed between March 24, 2022, and March 30, 2022. All respondents are parents of children 14 years or younger and currently pay for professional childcare, confirmed by both consumer‐matched data and self‐confirmation. DKC Analytics conducted and analyzed this survey with a sample procured using the Pollfish survey delivery platform, which delivers online surveys globally through mobile apps and the mobile web along with the desktop web. No post‐stratification has been applied to the results.

About Care.com

Available in more than 20 countries, Care.com is the world’s leading platform for finding and managing high-quality family care. Care.com is designed to meet the evolving needs of today’s families and caregivers, offering everything from household tax and payroll services and customized corporate benefits packages covering the care needs of working families, to innovating new ways for caregivers to be paid and obtain professional benefits. Since 2007, families have relied on Care.com’s industry-leading products — from child and senior care to pet care and home care. Care.com is an IAC company (NASDAQ: IAC)


Media Contact:

Mackenzie Nintzel

PR Associate


Jamie Gentges

PR Associate