Good Graph Friday: That Child Care Bill

December 16, 2011 | MSNBC.com |  Link to article

If you're a working parent, chances are at some point you've bemoaned the high cost of child care.

The lower your income, the more likely you are to have reason to complain.

recent graphic from CLASP, an advocacy group for low-income people, shows that families with working moms who live below the poverty line and have kids under 15 are spending 40 percent of their monthly income on child care expenses.

That's a more than 10 percentage point increase from 2002, according to CLASP.

Both sets of data are based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau, and they exclude people who are getting child care for free or from a family member, government or charity program. The most recent data was released in the spring of 2010.

Hannah Matthews, the director of child care and early education for CLASP, said it's not clear why child care costs have increased so substantially for very low-income families. One hypothesis is that child care costs are going up while incomes are dropping or staying steady.

The 40 percent figure is also very high in comparison to families who earn 200 percent above the poverty line, or more. Those families are paying just 7 percent of their monthly income in child care expenses.

Matthews noted that many families in the 7 percent range also likely feel pained by that child care bill.

"It's 7 percent of their income and feels like such a large amount. It's striking to think about what it feels like for a family that's in the 40 percent chart there - what they're dealing with just to make ends meet," she said.

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