Long gone are the days when most women stayed at home to care for their
children full-time as their husbands worked outside the home to provide
for the family. While this family model still exists, it is no longer
the norm. According to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)
Fact Sheet, “It is an undeniable fact of American life today that a large majority
of women with children—married and single, with children of all
ages from infants to teens—are working outside the home. Most of
these mothers work full time or would like full-time work.”
The NWLC explains how income from working mothers is crucial to supporting
their families. The Center goes on to state that 69.9 percent of American
women with children under the age of 18, 74.4 percent of women with children
ages 6 to 17, and 64.2 percent of women with children under the age of
6 are in the labor force. What’s more, 58.1 percent of women with
infants under the age of one year also work.
Single mothers, not surprisingly, work even more than their married counterparts.
A whopping 76.2 percent of single mothers with children under the age
of 18 and 80.3 percent of single moms with children ages 6 to 17 participate
in the labor force. And what of those single mothers with children under
the age of 6? Well, 70.7 percent of them are in the labor force, reports the NWLC.
3 Facts About U.S. Moms from Pew Research Center
Motherhood has changed dramatically in America over the past 50 years.
Today, more mothers hold college degrees than ever before, and the majority
of women with a young child are working instead of being stay-at-home
moms. There has also been a big shift among mothers who are breadwinners
for their families, something that was practically unheard of in the 1950s
and 1960s. In the 21st century, we now have more mothers who are their
family’s sole or primary breadwinner than ever before.
Here are three facts about U.S. moms from
Pew Research Center reports:
1. Women are having their first child later in life.
In 1994, the average age for women to become mothers in the United States
was 23, but now it’s 26. While one reason for this shift is the
lower rate of teen pregnancies, U.S. women in their 20s have continued
to delay motherhood. In 1994, for example, 53 percent of women in their
early 40s had their first babies by age 24, but now that number has fallen
to 39 percent, according to Pew.
2. Roughly One-in-Four Mothers Are Single Moms
While 68 percent of U.S. mothers are married, about 25 percent of them
are single mothers. According to research, about 9 million U.S. mothers
who are living with a child under the age of 18 are living without a partner
or spouse. In contrast, only 7 percent of fathers are raising a child
without a partner or spouse living in their home.
3. More Highly Educated Women are Becoming Mothers
We have seen dramatic increases in motherhood among highly educated women.
In 1994, 65 percent of women between the ages of 40 to 44 with a Ph.D.
or a professional degree had become mothers, but by 2014, that number
sharply rose to 80 percent.
“In 2014, Fashion Designer/Mogul, Rachel Zoe had five staff members
in her company who were pregnant and due within the year. Her response?
She built a nursery adjacent to the office, to retain her valued staff. She explained, ‘...I feel good sending
the message to my team that they work for a company that supports and
celebrates who they are in their personal lives and that we aren’t
afraid to let those truths influence the culture in the office in order
to make us more productive and happy on the whole,’” Mary
Beth Ferrante, a senior contributor, wrote in
The U.S. Workforce is Surging with Single Mothers
The New York Times, single mothers are surging in the American workforce, but that doesn’t
mean they can’t face many employment barriers, such as affordable
childcare and predictable work schedules.
“Yet since 2015, something surprising has happened,” according to
The Times. “The share of young single mothers in the workforce has climbed
about four percentage points, driven by those without college degrees,
according to a
New York Times analysis of Current Population Survey data. It’s a striking rise
even compared with other groups of women who have increased their labor
force participation during this period of very low unemployment.”
The last time we saw single mothers in the workforce grow so rapidly was
in the 1990s, ignited by federal policy changes, including tax incentives,
a welfare overhaul, and a thriving economy. However, in recent years,
we have not experienced any federal policy changes that would encourage
large numbers of single mothers to join the labor force. At the federal
level, single mothers do not have a reliable safety net, so for most,
working for pay is increasingly the most practical option on the table.
On the local level, minimum wage increases and paid leave have made it
easier for single mothers to join the labor force.
“Many safety net programs have been eviscerated, and work requirements
have increased,” said Carol Burnett, executive director of the
Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative, a nonprofit that supports working mothers. If more single mothers are
working, she said, it’s for a simple reason: “They need the