Charlie Van Wagoner and dozens of other parents have spent hundreds of hours recently tearing out old railroad ties, hauling bricks and grading the landscape for a new playground at the Holladay United Church of Christ’s preschool.
“It’s been fun because Sarah was so proud when I told her I was going to help,” Van Wagoner said of his 3-year-old daughter, who attends the school.
You can’t put a price tag on that. Or can you?
Working on the community project will surely boost Van Wagoner’s value on the 2014 Father’s Day Index. The analysis gives a monetary value to fatherly tasks — from mowing the lawn to fixing the leaky faucet to coaching the neighborhood soccer team.
This year, the extra duties that fathers take on beyond their regular 9-to-5 jobs, are worth $24,103. It’s their highest economic value since 2011 when the Index was first compiled by Insure.com,
In 2013, Dad’s value was $23,344 and in 2012 it was only $20,248
While the “value of Dad” keeps going up, he still doesn’t measure up to mom, whose family duties are worth $62,985 each year, according to Insure.com’s annual Mother’s Day Index.
The Index determines dad’s value by multiplying the hours he spends on each task in a 12-month period by the average wage for that particular job from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A father, for example, who helps with homework 10 hours a week for 40 weeks each year is worth $10,550. That’s about what it would cost to pay a teacher or other instructor, whose mean hourly wage is $26.38, according to the index.
Conversely, mowing the lawn every week is only worth $1,069, since landscapers make a lower average wage of $10.28 an hour.
The handyman skills that the dads at Holladay United Church of Christ have used for the new playground are worth at least $20 an hour and Trevor Hoyles has donated more than 100 hour of his time in the last few weeks.
“I’ve always tried to give back to the community and do volunteer projects,” Hoyles said. “And it’s a bonus to be able to do that for a place that benefits my son.”
It’s the kind of job the Index likes to promote.
If fathers want to increase their economic value at home, they should spend more time doing family finances, repairing pipes, coaching a team and helping with homework — all tasks with the highest hourly wages in Insure.com’s survey, said Penny Gusner, consumer analyst for Insure.com, which uses the index to help consumers choose the correct amount of insurance.
“Unfortunately barbecuing and mowing the lawn — two favorite Dad pastimes that are often memorialized on Father’s Day cards — have the lowest economic value,” said Gusner in a news release announcing the 2014 results, “but at least provide a good-looking lawn and some dinner.”
Priceless interactions • One Utah researcher said “boiling fathers down to a monetary value” is a narrow view of fatherhood.
“It masks the critical contributions that they make in so many other ways,” said Justin Dyer, an assistant professor in Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life whose emphasis of study has been fathers and their impact on children.
Dyer said it’s far more acceptable for today’s fathers to engage in the menial ”tasks of life.”
He said one of his grandfathers had several children but didn’t attend any of their births. “That was not a father’s place,” he said. “And changing a child’s diaper, wasn’t even on the radar.”
Today fathers, cook breakfast, help toddlers get dressed and take a turn with the neighborhood carpool — all jobs that may not have a high monetary value on The Father’s Day Index, but are still meaningful interactions.
“They help us understand the temperament of our children and help us parent, not based on what our parents did or what we see in the media, but based on what the child in front of us needs,” Dyer said. “Engaging in these activities enables us to tailor our parenting to the child and it provides us a deeper knowledge of who our children are.”
As fathers have taken on more roles it has created additional stress. “It’s a blessing and a curse,” said Dyer. “It was easier to have a single role.”
Of course, the payoffs are greater. “It helps you engage more fully with these amazing individuals we have,” he said.
Charlie Van Wagoner agrees.
“I’ve had several different jobs and being a stay-at-home dad is the hardest one I’ve ever done, both physically and mentally,” he said. “But it’s great when your kid looks up to you and you see how proud they are of you.”
Father’s Day index
This annual report determines “the value of dad” by multiplying the hours he spends on everyday tasks in a 12-month period by the average wage for that particular job from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Family accountant, $824 • 30 minutes a week, 52 weeks per year, $31.70 per hour.
Plumber, $182 • 2 hours, three times a year, $30.40 per hour.
Homework helper, $10,550 • 10 hours per week, 40 weeks per year, $26.38 per hour.
Coach, $934 • 4 hours per week, 10 weeks a year, $23.35 per hour.
Handyman, $968 • 8 hours per week, six weeks per year, $20.18 per hour.
Auto mechanic, $357 • 2 hours per week, 10 weeks a year, $17.85 per hour.
Toy/furniture assembly, $458 • 3 hours per week, 10 weeks a year, $15.25 per hour.
Pest removal, $61 • 1 hour per week, four weeks a year, $15.15 per hour.
Scout leader, $701 • 5 hours per week, 10 weeks a year, $14.03 per hour.
Driving/carpool $6,318 • 9 hours per week, 52 weeks a year, $13.50 per hour.
Moving furniture, $79 • 2 hours per week, three weeks a year, $13.10 per hour.
Cooking/barbecuing, $1,1603 • 3 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, $10.28 per hour.
Mowing lawn/landscaping, $1,069 • 2 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, $10.28 per hour.
Dad’s 2014 value • $24,103