Economic Snapshot | Children

Child care is out of reach for working families earning the minimum wage

When you compare the cost of child care to minimum wages across the nation, it becomes apparent just how difficult it is for families living off of a minimum-wage income to afford child care. For example, in Hawaii, the state with the median state minimum wage ($7.75), a minimum-wage worker would have to work full-time from January until July—or 1,162 hours—to cover annual child-care costs for a 4-year-old. Infant care, meanwhile, costs even more—a minimum-wage worker in Hawaii would have to work full-time from January until September (1,548 hours) to pay for a year of infant care.

Economic Snapshot

Child care is out of reach for working families earning the minimum wage: Annual child-care costs as a share of full-time, full-year minimum-wage earnings, by state

State Minimum wage Full-time minimum wage salary Annual infant care cost Hours a minimum-wage earner must work to pay for infant care Share of minimum wage salary needed to pay for infant care Month until which a minimum-wage earner must work each year to pay for infant care Annual 4-year-old care cost Hours a minimum-wage earner must work to pay for 4-year-old care Share of minimum wage salary needed to pay for 4-year-old care Month until which a minimum-wage earner must work each year to pay for 4-year-old care
Alabama $7.25 $15,080 $5,664 781 37.6% May $5,993 827 39.7% May
Alaska $8.75 $18,200 $10,497 1200 57.7% July $8,458 967 46.5% June
Arizona $8.05 $16,744 $9,359 1163 55.9% July $7,489 930 44.7% June
Arkansas $7.50 $15,600 $6,058 808 38.8% May $5,048 673 32.4% April
California $9.00 $18,720 $11,873 1319 63.4% August $8,270 919 44.2% June
Colorado $8.23 $17,118 $13,420 1631 78.4% October $10,079 1225 58.9% August
Connecticut $9.15 $19,032 $13,520 1478 71.0% September $11,238 1228 59.0% August
Delaware $8.25 $17,160 $9,249 1121 53.9% July $7,360 892 42.9% May
Washington D.C. $10.50 $21,840 $22,411 2134 102.6% January of following year $17,669 1683 80.9% October
Florida $8.05 $16,744 $8,553 1062 51.1% July $6,787 843 40.5% May
Georgia $7.25 $15,080 $7,173 989 47.6% June $6,072 838 40.3% May
Hawaii $7.75 $16,120 $11,996 1548 74.4% September $9,003 1162 55.8% July
Idaho $7.25 $15,080 $6,620 913 43.9% June $6,514 899 43.2% May
Illinois $8.25 $17,160 $12,833 1556 74.8% September $9,496 1151 55.3% July
Indiana $7.25 $15,080 $8,456 1166 56.1% July $6,584 908 43.7% June
Iowa $7.25 $15,080 $9,379 1294 62.2% August $8,071 1113 53.5% July
Kansas $7.25 $15,080 $11,014 1519 73.0% September $7,776 1072 51.6% July
Kentucky $7.25 $15,080 $6,325 872 41.9% May $6,097 841 40.4% May
Louisiana $7.25 $15,080 $5,774 796 38.3% May $4,985 688 33.1% April
Maine $7.50 $15,600 $9,557 1274 61.3% August $8,495 1133 54.5% July
Maryland $8.25 $17,160 $14,190 1720 82.7% October $9,690 1175 56.5% July
Massachusetts $9.00 $18,720 $16,898 1878 90.3% November $12,580 1398 67.2% August
Michigan $8.15 $16,952 $9,929 1218 58.6% July $8,124 997 47.9% June
Minnesota $9.00 $18,720 $14,288 1588 76.3% September $11,040 1227 59.0% August
Mississippi $7.25 $15,080 $5,612 774 37.2% May $4,901 676 32.5% April
Missouri $7.65 $15,912 $8,920 1166 56.1% July $6,202 811 39.0% May
Montana $8.05 $16,744 $9,045 1124 54.0% July $7,970 990 47.6% June
Nebraska $8.00 $16,640 $9,292 1161 55.8% July $7,964 996 47.9% June
Nevada $8.25 $17,160 $10,308 1249 60.1% August $8,381 1016 48.8% June
New Hampshire $7.25 $15,080 $12,152 1676 80.6% October $9,826 1355 65.2% August
New Jersey $8.38 $17,430 $11,777 1405 67.6% August $9,747 1163 55.9% July
New Mexico $7.50 $15,600 $7,682 1024 49.2% June $7,013 935 45.0% June
New York $8.75 $18,200 $14,814 1693 81.4% October $12,539 1433 68.9% September
North Carolina $7.25 $15,080 $9,299 1283 61.7% August $7,628 1052 50.6% June
North Dakota $7.25 $15,080 $8,037 1109 53.3% July $7,298 1007 48.4% June
Ohio $8.10 $16,848 $7,935 980 47.1% June $6,624 818 39.3% May
Oklahoma $7.25 $15,080 $7,904 1090 52.4% July $5,882 811 39.0% May
Oregon $9.25 $19,240 $11,312 1223 58.8% July $8,797 951 45.7% June
Pennsylvania $7.25 $15,080 $10,691 1475 70.9% September $8,911 1229 59.1% August
Rhode Island $9.00 $18,720 $12,929 1437 69.1% September $10,619 1180 56.7% July
South Carolina $7.25 $15,080 $6,506 897 43.1% May $5,499 758 36.5% May
South Dakota $8.50 $17,680 $5,688 669 32.2% April $5,431 639 30.7% April
Tennessee $7.25 $15,080 $5,980 825 39.7% May $4,610 636 30.6% April
Texas $7.25 $15,080 $8,801 1214 58.4% July $6,783 936 45.0% June
Utah $7.25 $15,080 $8,222 1134 54.5% July $6,237 860 41.4% May
Vermont $9.15 $19,032 $10,316 1127 54.2% July $10,280 1124 54.0% July
Virginia $7.25 $15,080 $10,239 1412 67.9% August $7,858 1084 52.1% July
Washington $9.47 $19,698 $12,592 1330 63.9% August $9,502 1003 48.2% June
West Virginia $8.00 $16,640 $7,964 996 47.9% June $6,902 863 41.5% May
Wisconsin $7.25 $15,080 $11,581 1597 76.8% September $9,498 1310 63.0% August
Wyoming $7.25 $15,080 $9,428 1300 62.5% August $8,081 1115 53.6% July

Note: Earnings are calculated using state minimum wages and assuming the parent works 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year.  * State minimum wages as of September 1, 2015.

Source: EPI analysis of EPI Family Budget Calculator (Gould, Cooke, and Kimball 2015) and Minimum Wage Tracker (EPI 2015)

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Child care is simply out of reach for workers who support their families on minimum-wage jobs. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that child care cost 10 percent or less of a family’s income. Nowhere in the United States does infant care or child care for a 4-year-old cost less than 30 percent of a minimum-wage worker’s annual wages, much less 10 percent. In fact, infant care represents over 50 percent of a full-time, full-year minimum-wage worker’s annual earnings in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Child care for a 4-year-old, meanwhile, represents over 50 percent of a minimum-wage worker’s annual earnings in 20 states and the District of Columbia.


See related work on Wages, Incomes, and Wealth | Children

See more work by Elise Gould