Babysitters' wages see big gains
Rates are surging to as much as $18 an hour, far outrunning inflation over the past few decades.
As fast-food workers from McDonald's (MCD) and other chains stage walkouts to protest for higher wages, they might want to turn their attention to another of America's entry-level jobs: the humble babysitter.
While pay for most Americans has stalled, babysitters have seen their wages rise at a rate nine times faster than inflation since the early 1980s, the Boston Globe reports, citing data from the Labor Department.
The average rate for babysitters is now about $12 per hour, while fast-food workers earn anywhere from the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour. In fact, babysitters make more than health care aides or retail workers, the Globe noted.
Babysitters command the highest hourly rates in San Francisco, where a family with three children shells out more than $18 per hour. Philadelphia is a relative bargain at slightly less than $12 per hour, while New York City parents can pay from about $13 per hour to more than $16, depending on the number of kids. (Of course, San Francisco and New York rank among the costliest cities to live in and have high-income residents from the tech and finance worlds.)
What's behind the rise in babysitting wages? Parents now expect more experienced sitters, and they seek those with early-education degrees or language skills, such as fluency in Mandarin, the story notes.
"College students, child development majors, nursing students come with a premium and the understanding that the sitter will be very engaged with the child," Lynn Perkins, the chief executive of UrbanSitter, told the Globe.
While sitters are better off these days, the surging rates are causing anxiety in parents. One blog post at A Child Grows asks: "Are you paying your babysitter enough?" And a 2012 survey of parents in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood found that date night costs an average of $158.
That's causing some parents to cut back on going out.
"They're so expensive you can't really afford them," Heather Walker, a mother of two, told the Globe about hiring sitters. "My husband and I have been on about five dates in five years."
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
Considering babysitting is part time and irregular without any kind of benefits, exactly what point is it these geniuses are trying to make.
What happened to having a teenager watch your kids for a few hours to go watch a movie? I don't need a college student who speaks Mandarin for that -
Daycare and preschool - maybe a nanny - but that is way different than a sitter once a month for a date night with my husband! I can still get a high school kid to watch my two kids for the night for $20.00.
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Reports say the generous benefactor behind the huge gratuities is a former PayPal executive.
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