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Childcare is cheaper in Alabama than almost anywhere else in America, but it’s still expensive

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — According to a new report from Child Care Aware, parents in Alabama enjoy some of the lowest child care costs in the nation, tying only with Mississippi, Utah, and Idaho for the average amount spent by a family making the state’s median household income.

c/o Vox
c/o Vox

Alabama’s parents spend an average of 13 percent of the median annual income on child care. The most expensive areas were Washington DC, where parents spend an astounding 36 percent of the median income, and New York, where parents spend 27 percent.

Despite costs being so relatively low in Alabama, the child care report finds the average full-time child care center costs $5,547 for infants and $5,869 for 4 year olds annually. This amounts to about 7 percent of income for married couples, and an incredible 30 percent of income for single parents.

While it seems that the cost is exorbitant, the report found that the average child care worker in Alabama only makes $18,360 a year, compared to the nationwide average of $21,320. This lower income could be one of the reasons Alabama has relatively lower costs.

In many states the high cost of childcare makes it financially untenable for even middle class families.

According to the report, nearly 11 million children younger than age five receive child care from someone other than their parents every week. Parents often have to make tradeoffs when deciding if one parent, usually the mother, will forgo an income outside the home to stay with the children during the day. A 2014 Pew survey found that the number of stay-at-home-moms is rising as the cost of childcare increases.

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