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This Woman Refuses to Pay Babysitters $15 an Hour. Do You Agree?

March 7, 2016
by Susan Shain
Contributor

When I babysat in middle and high school in the early 2000s, I earned $4-$5 an hour.

Although that wage was fine as a 14-year-old, it hasn’t exactly tempted me to get back into the biz.

But I’m starting to think I should pick up my old profession… apparently the going rate for babysitting is now $15 an hour.

And writer and mother of two Holly Johnson thinks it’s ridiculous.

She discusses her refusal to pay babysitters $15 an hour in a post for The Simple Dollar — and people have a LOT of feelings about it.

How Much Should You Pay Babysitters?

When Johnson first moved to Central Indiana, she was shocked by the number of potential babysitters who quoted her a rate of $15 an hour.

“Most of the high school kids in the area are likely making minimum wage, which currently sits at $7.25 per hour,” she writes.

“Why would a babysitting job — which is almost always a cushier gig than a fast-food or retail job — should [sic] pay twice as much?”

She includes several reasons for her opinion, including the fact kindergarten teachers, who need a four-year degree and license, earn about $16 an hour.

Beyond Babysitter Wages

The comments on Johnson’s post have blown up into a larger conversation about minimum wage, affordable child care — and even the gender wage gap:

“If you cannot afford to pay a sitter a respectful wage of $15/hr — which is standard across the country and higher in big cities, then you should either not go out, move closer to family who will do the job for free, or start a co-op with your friends where you trade sitter hours with each other,” writes Kate Vrijmoet.

“$60 for a four-hour date isn’t too much to ask for considering the job is making sure your children don’t die in your absence,” writes Daniel Yowell.

Citing other careers that are under paid is in no way a convincing argument (and, if anything, demonstrates a worrisome trend of workers being grossly underpaid in this country).”

Johnson, in a general response, writes:

“I am not against raising the minimum wage and didn’t mean to imply that! At $7.25 it is extremely behind the times, and that needs to change.”

But I also don’t feel as if a teenager needs to earn a ‘living wage’ for four hours of babysitting. Adults, yes, but not teenagers who are living comfortably with their families and just learning how to work for the first time.”

Though I understand where the commenters are coming from (and definitely think teachers should be paid more), I agree with Johnson on this one: $15 an hour seems like an awful lot to pay a teenager still living under their parents’ roof.

It’s an important job, yes, but many adults supporting their own families don’t earn that much.

And making $15 an hour as a high-school student could set them up for disappointment down the road.

“What message are we sending kids when we pay them real-world wages to babysit our kids?” asks Johnson. “In my eyes, we’re setting them up for unrealistic expectations of what their labor is really worth.”

Your Turn: Do you think teenage babysitters deserve a “living wage”? How much do you pay yours?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

by Susan Shain
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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