Wages of the Center-Based Child Care and Early Education Workforce: Findings from the 2019 National Survey of Early Care and Education

Research BriefEarly Childhood WorkforceMay 16 2023

Compensation of the child care and early education (CCEE) workforce is a critical topic of discussion among practitioners, researchers, and policymakers. Ensuring a well-compensated workforce can improve worker retention, staff consistency in the classroom, and overall worker well-being, which in turn benefits the children and families in need of care.1

In 2019, the median wage for full-time female hourly workers was $14.85 per hour,2 with variation across sectors and by individual characteristics, such as race and ethnicity.3 Given this variation in hourly wages across professions, variation in hourly wages among sectors of the CCEE workforce in 2019 is also likely. Identifying teacher and program characteristics associated with lower wages may inform efforts to target and remedy inequitable compensation across the CCEE workforce.

This snapshot uses data from the 2019 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) to examine variation in hourly wages by CCEE teachers’ demographic characteristics, teachers’ roles and responsibilities in the center, and center and community characteristics. Findings are focused on center-based CCEE teachers who serve children ages 0-5 who are not yet in kindergarten.

This brief is part of the Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis (CCEEPRA) project. CCEEPRA supports policy and program planning and decision-making with rigorous, research-based information.


1 McLean, C., Whitebook, M., & Roh, E. (2019). From unlivable wages to just pay for early educators. Center for the Study
of Child Care Employment.
2 This statistic was selected because the hourly female workforce is the closest overall comparison group to the CCEE
workforce, which is predominantly female.
3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020). Highlights of women’s earnings in 2019. BLS Reports. https://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/womens-earnings/2019/pdf/home.pdf