HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Child care workers in Hawaii are the lowest paid in the nation when cost of living is accounted for, earning a median adjusted wage of just $7.94 an hour.
That's according to a new state-by-state analysis, which also found that 86 percent of the early childhood education workforce nationally makes $15 an hour or less.
The 2018 Early Childhood Workforce Index says the actual median wage for child care workers in Hawaii is $10.64 an hour. The minimum wage in the state is $10.10.
New Hampshire is just above Hawaii in the pay ranking: There, the cost of living adjusted wage for the group is $9.37 an hour. New York is third from the bottom nationally, paying child care workers $9.46 an hour after cost of living is factored in.
Colorado, Minnesota and Michigan topped the list for wages, but child care workers in those states still make $13 or less after cost of living is considered.
Hawaii wages for other positions in early childhood education also fared poorly.
Preschool teachers in Hawaii earn a median annual salary of $37,310. But that's cut down by nearly $10,000 when cost of living is accounted for, the report said.
Meanwhile, preschool center directors and kindergarten teachers in the islands are also the lowest paid in the nation when the cost of living is factored in.
"It is widely agreed that the current early care and education system across states is woefully underfunded. The cost of services is out of reach for many working families, including those who earn middle-class wages," the index said, in a profile write-up for Hawaii.
"At the same time, large swaths of early childhood teachers — even those with college degrees — earn unlivable wages. More than 4,260 members of the early childhood teaching workforce provide services to children in Hawaii."
The report comes amid growing scrutiny about the dearth of child care options in Hawaii — and their high costs.
The index, released by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, estimated that 64 percent of Hawaii children live in households where all available parents are working, and nearly one fifth of all kids are part of low-income families.
A national report released last month, though, said that nearly half of Hawaii's youngest keiki — under the age of 6 — don't have access to quality, affordable child care.