Amid the rising cost of everything and after spending much of the pandemic locked down with their kids, a new sticker shock is hitting parents: babysitters.
This sought-after labor force, including its traditionally teenaged cohort, is now commanding as much as $30 an hour, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"After two years of hunkering down at home with their children, parents are returning to their office jobs and social lives and are competing for part-time sitters at the same time," writes Rachel Wolfe. "Teens are getting better snacks, doing fewer mundane chores and are commanding top dollar."
One Massachusetts teen, 19-year-old Emma Sharkansky, told the Journal she is making up to $30 an hour, compared with $12 a few years ago.
"It used to be you walked in and were all shy and saying thank you so much and feeling grateful to get a little spending money," Sharkansky said. "Now, I'm walking in and they're thanking me more than I could possibly thank them."
The $30 rate is on the extreme end of the kid-caretaker pay spectrum, according to Sean Greene, founder and CEO of Bambino, a baby sitter network platform. Still, he said, he is not surprised to learn some teens are commanding that amount. Prior to the pandemic, the inflation rate for babysitter pay was about 2 percent. In 2021, that increased to about 7 percent — and in 2022, it surged to 12 percent.
"Twenty years ago, a babysitter's pay would be in the single digits — usually less than $10 an hour," Greene said. "Now it's very common to see $15 to $20, and sometimes even up to $30.
And thanks to the ongoing labor shortage, anyone available to sit can command top dollar, he said. Millennial parents, he said, appear even more willing to pay out the nose, simply because it's all they've ever known, he said.
Federal data show that for teens looking to snag a sitter job, there's never been a better time to enter the labor market. The unemployment rate for 16 to 19 year-olds now stands at 10.2 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — the lowest rate for that cohort since the 1950s. That means any teen looking for a job will likely be able to find one. And this age cohort is making as much as $566 a week, the data show, or about $28 an hour on average for someone working 20 hours a week.
"This is going to be a great summer for (working) kids," said Paul Hastings, an economist at Drexel University who has studied teen labor force dynamics.
Given the likelihood of a recession by next summer, he said, it's a good idea for any youngster who might be considering taking a job to grab one now.
"Next year things may be quite different," he said, "but in the near-term the outlook is really good."