In Emily Yoffe's Human Guinea Pigs column today, the Slate writer tries out being a day care worker in D.C.'s Gap Community Child Care Center, which mostly provides subsidized child care to low-income women so that they can work. It is, to say the least, not a fun job. There's screaming and fighting and crap-filled diapers, runny noses and messy meals and the constant need to entertain a squirming mass of children to prevent even more screaming, fighting and snotting (because nothing can stem the tide of shit). At the end of a long say, Emily (a mother herself) catches herself thinking, "This is the reason television and cocktails were invented, " and, amen to that! But Emily also points out one sad but true fact of the child care industry: expensive though it might be for to put kids in child care, some of the women least likely to be able to afford child care are the women who provide it.
Child care professionals are responsible for the health, well-being and development of the fruit of other women's loins (not mine!) But in exchange for that, the median average salary in 2006 was $17,160. The government survey shows that other comparatively poorly remunerated jobs include bellhops, ($16,120), gaming dealers ($13,179), bartenders ($13,104), dishwashers ($16,012), maids ($16,640) and cashiers ($17,992). Of course, none of those people are responsible for your children on a daily basis, and, though I do love my cadre of bartenders it does seem like, if I had kids, I'd want the women in charge of making sure my kids grow up relatively normal to get paid more than the guy who helps gets me wasted on a Friday night. But I guess that's what happens when women start demanding money for what many of us are socially expected to do for free. At least child care workers, unlike stay-at-home mothers, will earn credit toward their Social Security even if they get paid so little they would barely be able to afford the child care if they had any children to take care of them in their dotage.
Diaper Genie [Slate]
National Compensation Survey: Occupational Wages in the United States, June 2006 [Bureau of Labor Statistics]