RELEASE: The Price of Child Care Eats Up Substantial Income for Working Mothers Employed in the Most Common Industries

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new report analyzing which industries are most likely to employ working mothers. Using that information, the report analyzes, on average, how child care prices compare with the personal and household incomes for working mothers in these industries. The analysis also looks at the racial disparities among working mothers in these industries. Key findings from the report include:

  • Roughly 1 in 4 working mothers is employed in one of just three industries: elementary and secondary schools, hospitals, and food services.
  • White mothers are overrepresented as elementary and secondary school employees; Hispanic mothers are underrepresented in employment as hospital workers while being overrepresented in food services.
  • In comparing the annual price of child care for two children under age 5 relative to the median household and personal income overall, by race and ethnicity, and among those employed in the most common industries, in no instance does the price for care meet federal guidelines for affordability.
  • For Black and American Indian and Alaska Native women, the price of child care for two young children in a center-based program is more than half of median household income (56 percent and 51 percent, respectively), and it is nearly half of median household income for Hispanic mothers.
  • For an average Black, American Indian and Alaska Native, or Hispanic working mother, the average price of a child care center for two young children would meet or exceed all of her individual/personal earnings.

“This analysis shows that the cost of child care is wholly unaffordable for workers in the industries most likely to employ mothers of young children—and that in many cases, these high prices can make it nearly impossible for working mothers, and in particular those of color, to juggle staying in the workforce and providing for their families,” said Sarah Jane Glynn, senior fellow with the Women’s Initiative at CAP and co-author of the report.

Please click here to read “The Economics of Caregiving for Working Mothers” by Sarah Jane Glynn and Katie Hamm.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at or 202-741-6292.