Mar 2, 2023 - Business

Phoenix gets some relief from through-the-roof child care costs

Change in babysitting rates, 2021 to 2022
Data: UrbanSitter; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

The average cost of hiring a babysitter increased nationally last year, but fell in Phoenix, according to survey results caregiver-finding platform UrbanSitter.

State of play: Babysitting rates across the country jumped from $20.57 to $22.68 an hour for one child from 2021 to 2022, Axios' Jennifer A. Kingson reported.

  • UrbanSitter provided data on 33 cities and regions, 29 of which saw increases last year.

1 big outlier: Phoenix. Ours was one of the rare cities where babysitting rates fell.

  • Rates here dropped from $19.81 to $17.61 an hour for one child, or 11%.
  • That was the largest drop among the areas UrbanSitter provided data for, both in terms of percentage and total dollars.
  • New York, Raleigh and Houston also saw declines.

Why it matters: Inflation has been a major problem nationwide, and Phoenix has been hit particularly hard.

Yes, but: UrbanSitter CEO Lynn Perkins examined four years' of data to figure out why Phoenix bucked the nationwide trend last year and concluded it's likely because our rates skyrocketed compared to other markets in the preceding years.

  • Nationwide rates over the past four years for one child increased by 28% and for two children by 27%.
  • But in Phoenix, those upticks were 42% and 39%, respectively.

Between the lines: Perkins suggests a major driver for Phoenix's previous rate increase was an unusually high number of skilled workers leaving nursing and teaching and going into child care.

  • "I think the Phoenix market is seeing a correction and I don't expect it to continue to go down," says Perkins, who predicts the city's rates will either stay flat or follow broader nationwide trends this year.
  • She notes that UrbanSitter saw a 58% increase in its pool of providers in Phoenix in 2022, which likely also drove down costs.
  • The rest of the industry is seeing similar patterns here, Perkins says, but it's more pronounced at UrbanSitter.

The big picture: A shortage of child care workers — and higher pay those remaining can command — is creating seismic ripples in the labor market, keeping some parents at home or in precarious arrangements.

  • It's also attracting teachers, nurses and other trained professionals into the career — also driving up rates.
  • In the other direction, day care workers are quitting for higher pay elsewhere — including custodial jobs.

Among the major U.S. cities surveyed by UrbanSitter, the highest babysitting rates were in the San Francisco Bay Area ($25.24 an hour for one child) and Seattle ($​​24.60) — nudging out New York City, which took the top spot last year at $23.45.

  • Springfield, Missouri, had the lowest rate, at $11.35.

Of note: UrbanSitter's pay rates are on the high side compared with those suggested by Care.com and Sittercity.

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