Center for American Progress

RELEASE: The Wage Gap for Early Childhood Educators Is Getting Wider for Teachers of Color, New CAP Analysis Finds
Press Release

RELEASE: The Wage Gap for Early Childhood Educators Is Getting Wider for Teachers of Color, New CAP Analysis Finds

Washington, D.C. — Despite delivering a vital, highly skilled service for children and families, early childhood educators are compensated with egregiously low, borderline poverty-level wages for their work. On top of already low wages, the wage gap in the early childhood workforce is widening even further, a new CAP analysis finds. 

This analysis dives into the demographics, education, experiences, and wages of child care workers in center-based programs. Among some of the most critical findings that reveal the widening pay gaps and inequality: 

  • Early childhood educators are 97 percent women; 38 percent are women of color. 
  • Full-time teachers are paid $14 per hour on average, and real wages have dropped by 6.5 percent during the seven years since the survey was conducted. This puts teachers barely over the federal poverty line for a family of four. 
  • Only one-third of teachers have health insurance through their workplace. Their uninsured rate is double the rate of the general population. 
  • The wage gap between white and Black early childhood educators has widened since 2012, from 84 percent to 76 percent. 

For decades, early childhood educators have played an invaluable role for millions of children and families across the country. Despite this, there has been an inexcusable negligence by lawmakers to address the failures of the child care market, including the lack of compensation that reflects the fundamental role they play in supporting the next generation. The child care workforce should be compensated in line with their expertise and imperative role in early childhood development. It’s long past due.

“Early childhood teachers play a fundamental role in shaping the development of children while also enabling parents to be part of the nation’s workforce. The work they’re doing is imperative; yet, on average, teachers are earning $14 per hour, which works out to less than $30,000 per year, barely above the poverty line for a family of four. For educators of color, these already low wages are even lower as the wage gap continues to expand,” said Maureen Coffey, a policy analyst on the Early Childhood Policy team at CAP and author of the issue brief. 

Read the issue brief here: “Still Underpaid and Unequal: Early Childhood Educators Face Low Pay and a Worsening Wage Gap” by Maureen Coffey 

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sarah Nadeau at snadeau@americanprogress.org