“How does a nanny earn more than the average pediatrician? The simple answer is hard work….” So reports Adam Davidson in his New York Times article on March 20th. Really? How I wish that statement were true. I know hundreds and hundreds of very hardworking nannies with years of experience and sterling recommendations who will never see anything close to $180,000 a year. Of course, they don’t live in NYC where stratospheric Wall Street and other titans of the earth salaries allow for such largesse. And even in DC, where plenty of people could afford to pay at that level, they don’t. It’s just not our market. We’re much more like London where $75,000 is considered an eye-brow raising, high end salary.
Please know that I am thrilled when nannies get paid well. But do I love the on-call, 24/7 jobs? Not a bit. When nannies land those jobs, we know they have sold their souls. Those jobs smack of indentured servitude. When you get right down to it, that $180,000 fancy- dancy salary is really $20.00 hour assuming the nanny is really on all the time as indicated. Let’s reconsider the word largesse.
A lot of agency owners will be bothered by The Times article. Those high paying positions are so few and far between– and so not representative of the nanny industry. When I read any article in The New York Times Magazine, I hope it’s going to be more enlightening than one written for People Magazine. Information versus infotainment. The evening news versus Access Hollywood. (Both of which I watch) Davidson gives the reader a voyeur’s delight. How does the other half live? Take a peek. It’s not really economic commentary. Is this fat cat’s $180,000 a year nanny that much better than Davidson’s $18 an hour hire? Does it matter?
Davidson was spot on when he mentioned: “…alas, it seems that there just aren’t enough ‘good’ nannies on call, to go around”. What we do have are on-line sites fictitiously boasting thousands of qualified caregivers in every zip code. Alas, no, there aren’t. What we have now is great technology– not an abundance of qualified nannies.
I was impressed that the nanny in the article kept moving up the salary ladder with each of new job. Let me assure you that this ascent is often atypical. Many nannies after working for 5 years with one family are lucky not to have to backtrack a few bucks an hour in their next position. The rational goes something like this: It’s a new family. They don’t know you. You need to earn their trust. They’re just starting out. If you want to take care of a baby and have a long-term job (even though you may already have 10 years experience), you may have to take a salary cut. Where else does this happen?
I agree that the real world is not half as entertaining as hearing about the $180,000 a year nanny salary, or the Zamboni riding nanny, or the horse grooming nanny. Check out of the number or comments to this article. But instead of worrying about whether one’s child will suffer with a “mid-market nanny”, it would be great if someone could tackle the real childcare issues in this country. We aren’t training a work force to care for our kids. We don’t have anyone to take care of our kids for the 4 or 5 hours after school until working parents can get home. We have no national childcare policy. We don’t even have enough really good nannies to fill the positions for those who can afford the going rates… Oh-So not glamorous.