MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — All parents have asked themselves the big question — is it worth paying a babysitter for a night out?

Babysitting is big business. In fact, in the last 30 years, the Labor Department says sitter rates have risen nine times faster than inflation.

As their kids make the most of the last of the summer weather, many Minneapolis mothers have no trouble getting into what it costs for someone else to watch them.

“It’s like communal pricing,” said one mother.

Like many families, their babysitter rates seem to be set by their blocks.

“Eight to $10 an hour seemed to be the going rate,” said another mother.

But in the babysitting business, there’s much more to it. The pool to pick from is bigger than ever before. Online services allow sitters to see what their competition charges, raising the rates all around.

At the same time, website Sitter City’s Melissa Marchwick told WCCO parents want more from people watching their kids, looking to teach them piano lessons or another language.

“You can get really specialized when you have the ability to access all of these sitters in your area and really put out there ‘This is exactly what I’m looking for,'” Marchwick said.

There are thousands of babysitters from the Twin Cities who list their services on Sitter City. The website found experienced sitters in the Twin Cities make on average $11.25 an hour to watch one child, $11.75 for two. That’s a higher wage than someone working in retail or even as a health care aide.

Sheri Poupard runs Jack and Jill Sitting Service. The recession brought her a lot more sitters as people tried to make up the hours they lost at other jobs. She has found, for parents, it’s a price they have to pay.

“It takes two salaries to live now,” Poupard said.

Poupard’s rate is even higher — the sitters who work for her service make as much as $14 an hour.

Where you live makes a big difference in how much you pay a babysitter. Sitter City found it can vary by as much as $2 an hour across the metro.

You can run the rate yourself by clicking here.

Liz Collin

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