15 Cities With a Lack of Child Care Workers

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Children at daycare
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on HowToHome.

Throughout the pandemic, stressed-out families struggled to find reliable child care as many providers shut down abruptly due to COVID-19 exposures. This forced many parents and caretakers to take unplanned leave, attempt to work and care for children simultaneously, or to leave the workforce altogether.

Recent research from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation estimates that as many as 40% of parents have had job decisions significantly affected by child care issues, while gaps in care result in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost economic productivity in each state each year.

Despite child care workers’ vital role in the economy, compensation in the field lags far behind many other professions. A typical child care worker in the U.S. earned an hourly rate of $13.22 in 2021, which equates to $27,490 annually for full-time workers. In comparison, the median wage for all professions was $22 per hour, or $45,760 annually — approximately 60% higher.

To find which cities suffer the worst lack of child care workers, researchers at HowtoHome.com analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (2020) and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2020).

The following U.S. metropolitan areas have the greatest lack of child care workers.

15. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

Virginia Beach, Virginia
Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 142.1
  • Total children (under 14): 325,366
  • Total child care workers: 2,290
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $21,250

14. Oklahoma City, OK

Oklahoma City
Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 145.8
  • Total children (under 14): 287,168
  • Total child care workers: 1,970
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $20,890

13. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

Cuyahoga County Courthouse
Nina Alizada / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 147.2
  • Total children (under 14): 354,814
  • Total child care workers: 2,410
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $22,130

12. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

Couple on bikes in St. Petersburg Florida
RebeccaPavlik / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 147.4
  • Total children (under 14): 517,441
  • Total child care workers: 3,510
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $23,210

11. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Los Angeles neighborhood in San Fernando Valley
trekandshoot / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 148.3
  • Total children (under 14): 2,380,073
  • Total child care workers: 16,050
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $30,560

10. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

Outdoor dining in Chicago
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  • Children per child care worker: 152.9
  • Total children (under 14): 1,778,703
  • Total child care workers: 11,630
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $25,810

9. New Orleans-Metairie, LA

Homes in New Orleans, Louisiana
Ellie-Rose Cousins / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 158.5
  • Total children (under 14): 236,108
  • Total child care workers: 1,490
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $19,530

8. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Portland, Oregon
photomatz / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 161.0
  • Total children (under 14): 438,035
  • Total child care workers: 2,720
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $30,120

7. Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville, Florida
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 161.2
  • Total children (under 14): 286,959
  • Total child care workers: 1,780
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $23,920

6. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

Quiet neighborhood in Orlando
pisaphotography / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 168.1
  • Total children (under 14): 462,166
  • Total child care workers: 2,750
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $21,190

5. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

Las Vegas street scene
Tupungato / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 206.2
  • Total children (under 14): 430,906
  • Total child care workers: 2,090
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $21,700

4. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

Downtown San Bernardino, California
Matt Gush / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 208.8
  • Total children (under 14): 979,105
  • Total child care workers: 4,690
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $30,310

3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

San Jose California traffic
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 230.8
  • Total children (under 14): 364,601
  • Total child care workers: 1,580
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $30,780

2. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

Indianapolis
Semmick Photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 240.3
  • Total children (under 14): 420,605
  • Total child care workers: 1,750
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $23,320

1. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Seattle, Washington
cdrin / Shutterstock.com
  • Children per child care worker: 265.7
  • Total children (under 14): 706,738
  • Total child care workers: 2,660
  • Median annual wage for child care workers: $35,240

Methodology

Woman looking at financial chart on tablet computer
Wright Studio / Shutterstock.com

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (2020) and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2020). To determine the locations with a lack of child care workers, researchers at HowtoHome.com calculated the number of children per child care worker and ranked them from highest to lowest.