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Family budget calculator shows child care costs overwhelm households throughout Oregon

Blog post
March 6, 2018By Janet Bauer

For many families with children, child care is the most expensive item in the family budget, no matter where they live in Oregon.

For example, child care expenses are about $1,123 for two kids in Harney County, one of Oregon's rural counties. That exceeds the estimated cost of any other budget essential for a single-parent, two-child household living in that county.

The Economic Policy Institute’s updated Family Budget Calculator estimates what it takes for a family to have a modest yet adequate standard of living. The calculator takes into account the cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes. The calculator does not include savings for retirement, a rainy day, or college. It is based on 2017 costs.

For the first time, the Family Budget Calculator estimates costs for each Oregon county. Users can also get information for seven urban areas in the state, including Albany, Bend/Redmond, Corvallis, Eugene/Springfield, Medford, Grants Pass, Portland/Vancouver/Hillsboro, and Salem.

Whether in Harney or Washington County, a minimum wage worker employed full time earns only a fraction of the amount needed for a modest standard of living. This worker does not make enough to cover housing and child care, much less other essentials.

The Family Budget Calculator does not factor in public benefits, including federal health care subsidies. It also does not account for health insurance costs paid by employers.

Taxes are calculated according to 2016 tax law. They include federal taxes (including Social Security and Medicare contributions) and state taxes, and exclude local taxes and sales taxes.

The updated Family Budget Calculator makes clear that families throughout the state struggle to afford adequate care for their kids as they head off to work.