These Maps Show the Average Cost of Child Care in Each State

While prices vary across the country, one thing is true: It's all too expensive.

by Ben Marx
Originally Published: 
Better Broker Network

As you undoubtedly know, the cost of raising kids in the U.S. is rising steadily. A significant part of that expense is due to increases in child-care costs. But how much are American parents spending to have their kids looked after? Business Broker Network, an online marketplace for businesses up for sale, put together a set of maps that shows the average cost of child care in every state. Spoiler alert: It’s a lot.

While there are large variations across state lines, on the whole, Americans are spending a huge portion of their income on child care. Business Broker Network put the data together from a national survey of child-care providers, and the results are staggering. The highest cost, by far, is in Washington, D.C., where parents are spending an average of $35,782 per year, or $2,982 per month. Massachusetts is the next most expensive state for child care, where it costs an average of $29,426 annually, or $2,452 monthly. New York comes in third at $24,102 annually ($2,009 monthly). On the less expensive end of the spectrum is Mississippi, where parents put an average of $7,981 a year ($665 a month) towards child care.

Business Broker Network also looked at each state’s child-care expenses compared to its median income, as well as the cost of rent for a two-bedroom apartment. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers child care affordable if no more than 10 percent of a family’s income is put toward it, but parents are ultimately spending much more, on average. Families in Washington, D.C., spend 26 percent of their annual income; Massachusetts spends 25; and Wisconsin spends 23. Even in states where the cost is comparatively low, parents still exceed what HHS deems affordable. For instance, families in Mississippi spend 12 percent, while those in Louisiana spend 13 percent, and those in Alabama spend 14 percent.

They crunched the numbers on home-based child care versus center-based child care, too. The list below shows how much more expensive center-based child care is than home-based care in each state. In Minnesota, center-based care is 71 percent more expensive than home-based; at the other end of the scale is Kentucky, where the average cost is about the same for both ($12,452).

It should be said that this data is averaged and presented state-by-state, which means that costs can vary wildly in any given area (cities, naturally, are more expensive than suburbs); the numbers also fluctuate based on the type of care parents are paying for. Full-time care in a name-brand establishment adds up to more than what a household with a stay-at-home parent would spend. Still, it ain’t cheap, and with child-care costs rising, the averages are worth considering for parents looking for cheaper areas to raise kids.

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