August 24, 2022

Report from the California Workforce Study (Center for the Study of Child Care Employment Institute for Research on Labor and Employment)

Elena Montoya
Senior Research & Policy Associate, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment
Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
University of California, Berkeley

The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at University of California, Berkeley, has released their report on the CA Workforce study on early educator compensation. Early educators perform challenging, complex work, yet despite this and their years of experience, training, and education, this study documents the persistently low wages paid to them. This report further identifies disparities by program setting and funding, and finds that for some, wages actually declined between 2005 and 2020. The low wages reflect a failure of state policy to address compensation over the 15 years since our last compensation study,

Key findings include:

  • Providers operating small family child care homes reported a median annual income of $16,200-$30,000, the lowest annual income of all early educators.

  • The median hourly wage in a child care center in California is $16 for an assistant, $19 for a lead teacher, and $26 for directors and administrators– all well below the $41 wage of a TK teacher and the California living wage of $40 for a family of one adult and one child.

  • Center-based educators working in programs with public contracts reported higher wages and were more likely to access employer-sponsored health insurance and to have retirement savings than those in programs with other funding sources.

Please share widely with your networks, and if applicable, with your internal communications teams.

Along with the statewide report, we are excited to share non-representative county level wage estimates. Please bear in mind that the country-level these findings may not reflect the true prevailing wages due to the small sample size. We hope, however, that even partial data can be informative for planning and advocacy. If you share the regional data tables, please always include the disclaimer subtext associated with the table.