The rich are different than you and me, and here’s one more bit of evidence that Adam Davidsonrecently dug up in the New York Times Magazine: the 1% is shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for childcare. He spoke with an elite nanny agency, plus some of these high-end nannies themselves, and discovered at least one making $180,000 a year plus an apartment and bonuses. Yet nannies making six figures are quite an exception to the low pay that is the norm for childcare workers.
Some memes have to be popped after they’ve already taken on steam, but sometimes we can get out in front of them. For one might be led to think that New Yorkers are paying top dollar to compensate their live-in childcare workers lavishly. It made Derek Thompson wonder, “How in the world can Manhattan nannies be worth $200,000 a year?” His answer is that there is a “Nanny Effect” to locally delivered services such as childcare. Because “most of the jobs in a service economy have a local clientele,” he says, “in cities where incomes are high, average price levels for these services are typically high.” Anyone who’s walked into a hair salon on the Upper West Side for a cheap cut will understand this phenomenon.
But the tale of the $200,000 nanny is an incredibly niche story. For the 99% of nannies, pay is actually quite low given the important work they do. In a2011 survey of 528 nannies across the country, the most common answer to an inquiry about how much they bring in pre-tax per week was $600. The second most common? A mere $300 or less per week. And things don’t get much better even in high-priced New York City. Live-in nannies, like the aforementioned $200,000 one, make an average of $713 a week, which comes to $37,076 a year. Even in posh Park Slope, home of high-priced strollers and children’s clothes that cost more than my nicest suit, on the books nannies earn $16.41 an hour. For those working 50 hours a week, that comes to just $42,666 a year.