Where's the wage growth? Try babysitting

Even in an economic era marked by wage stagnation, pockets of workers are enjoying hefty raises, like CEOs and programmers. One of the more surprising? Babysitters. 

Parents are now paying an average $13.97 per hour for their sitters. That’s a 26 percent surge since 2010, according to a new report from Care.com, which surveyed more than 800 parents in February. Over the same period, pay rates for the typical American worker have barely budged. 

Babysitters are enjoying healthy wage growth partly because parents expect more from the role, said Joyce Hodel, Care.com’s data scientist. While many families still hire the local teenager to watch their kids on date night, parents are also searching for adults with college degrees in early education or specialized skills, such as first-aid or CPR certification.

“It’s a professionalism of babysitting,” Hodel said. Parents “will pay more if a sitter has safety training or an early education degree.”

The boost in babysitting wages means sitters are inching up on the typical worker. Americans’ median hourly wage stood at $17.86 in 2016, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Of course, most full-time workers also receive some benefits with their job, which isn’t common for babysitters. 

Not every sitter is earning almost $14 an hour. Pay depends partly on geography and local wages, and parents in expensive cities are more likely to pay even higher rates. 

The city with the highest wages for sitters is San Jose, California, which sits at the center of Silicon Valley. Sitters there earn an average of $16.68 an hour. (See below for a list of the most and least expensive cities to hire a sitter.)

All that babysitting money adds up. Four out of 10 parents told Care.com they spend at least $1,000 per year on sitters. Another two out of 10 shell out more than $2,000 annually.

Parents aren’t grumbling about their sitters’ wages, since the majority said they believe babysitters should be paid above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Many states have enacted laws that push local baseline wages far above the federal minimum, which has come under fire from labor activists as failing to provide a living wage. 

So who’s handling the babysitter and pay decisions? Well, that depends on who you ask, considering a gender gap between the perceptions of men and women. Forty-one percent of dads said the hiring decisions are handled equally with their partner, but only 15 percent of moms described the task as an equal effort. 

“Moms tend to say they’re doing more of the work, and dads say they’re contributing equally,” Hodel said. “Where it really falls is probably somewhere in the middle of that.”

Five most expensive big cities to hire a babysitter (per hour):

1.       San Jose, California: $16.68

2.       San Francisco: $16.52

3.       Bridgeport, Connecticut: $15.74

4.       Boston: $15.51

5.       New York City: $15.23

Five least expensive big cities to hire a babysitter (per hour):

1.       Youngstown, Ohio: $11.81

2.       Toledo, Ohio: $12.24

3.       McAllen, Texas: $12.36

4.       Lakewood, Florida: $12.52

5.       Akron, Ohio: $12.67