USDA: Cost to raise kids rises, now above $245,000

The United States Department of Agriculture has released its annual report on the cost of raising children, and families will spend almost a quarter-million dollars on housing, food, childcare, and education for kids born in 2013.

Andy Matsko/Pottsville Republican-Herald/AP
Chaseton Eckert, left, 3, and Cooper Starr, 4, enjoy a ride at the Schuylkill County Fair in Summit Station, Pa. during a visit by their daycare group to the fair on Tuesday, July 29. The USDA released a report Monday that lists childcare among top expenses for parents.

WASHINGTON – A child born in 2013 will cost a middle-income American family an average of $245,340 until they become an adult, with families living in the Northeast taking on a greater burden, according to a report released Monday.

Those costs - food, housing, childcare, and education - rose 1.8 percent over the previous year (from just over $241,000), the Agriculture Department's new "Expenditures on Children and Families" report said. As in the past, families in the urban Northeast will spend more than families in the urban South and rural parts of the US, or roughly $282,480.

When adjusting for projected inflation, the report found that a child born last year could cost a middle-income family an average of about $304,480.

The USDA's annual report, based on the government's Consumer Expenditure Survey, found families were consistent in how they spent their money across all categories from 2012 to 2013. The costs associated with pregnancy or expenses accumulated after a child becomes an adult, such as college tuition, were not included.

In 1960, the first year the report was issued, a middle-income family could spend about $25,230, equivalent to $198,560 in 2013 dollars, to raise a child until the age of 18. Housing costs remain the greatest child-rearing expense, as they did in the 1960s, although current-day costs like childcare were negligible back then.

For middle-income families, the USDA found, housing expenses made up roughly 30 percent of the total cost of raising a child. Child care and education were the second-largest expenses, at 18 percent, followed by food at 16 percent.

Expenses per child decrease as a family has more children, the report found, as families with three or more children spend 22 percent less per child than families with two children. That's because more children share bedrooms, clothing and toys, and food can be purchased in larger, bulk quantities.

For families who want to calculate the cost of raising children in their own area, you can visit the USDA’s “Cost of Raising a Child” calculator online.

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