Days Of the "Stay At Home Mom" Are Over, More Women Family Breadwinners Than Ever

A number of factors have led to moms being the primary money maker. 

Women wear the pants now.

The female half of straight married couples, along with single mothers, have been contributing more to total household earnings than ever before, according to a new report. In the United States in 2015, almost two-thirds of moms were the primary, sole, or co-breadwinners for their families.

“The days of the full-time, stay-at-home mom” are practically over, says the report’s author Sarah Jane Glynn, a senior policy adviser at the Center for American Progress, adding that moms with higher levels of education were the breadwinners, or co-breadwinners, equal to their husband’s income (42 percent). Lower-income women were found to be the primary, or sole, source of their family’s earnings, as well.

“As more and more mothers enter the workforce and become breadwinners for their families, workers need family-friendly policies that are responsive to their needs. This is especially true for black and Latina mothers, who make up a disproportionate share of breadwinners,” she added in the statement.

Breaking it down by location and nationality:

West Coast moms were the least likely to bring in a big income haul. Midwest moms were the most likely. Black and Latina moms were more likely than white moms to serve as the primary or sole breadwinner, with 70.7 percent of black mothers and 40.5 percent of Latina mothers making most of their family’s income in 2015. For white mothers, that number was 37.4 percent.

“It is true that there are significant differences between groups of breadwinning mothers based on their backgrounds and where they live. But while there are differences across the country and within groups of women, one overarching fact remains indisputably true: With the majority of women working for pay, and their earnings being so vital to the economic well-being of their families, the days of full-time, stay-at-home mothers are long past. Women are crucial economic actors for their families, local communities, and the overall U.S. economy,” says the report.

“Four of the top 10 states with the highest rates of breadwinning mothers are in the South—Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina—while Texas is squarely within the bottom 10. Mississippi, the state with the highest percentage of breadwinning mothers, is also the state with the lowest median family income, which may be driving at least some of this trend.”

The report found that 65.5 percent of families with children in 2015 had parents that were married. Single mothers made up 26.4 percent of the families in the report.

“However, the fact that women are bringing home a significant portion of their families’ incomes does not mean that there is gender parity in the workforce, nor does it mean that working parents and caregivers have the supports they so vitally need. Issues such as the gender wage gap and a lack of policies such as universal paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, and workplace flexibility still hold women back from reaching their full economic potential,” says the report. “It is a testament to the hard work and tenacity of women that they have reached the level they occupy today. However, there is far more work to be done to ensure that U.S. labor standards and workplace policies are updated to reflect the reality of the 21st century workforce and to ensure that the nation’s public policies are in line with the needs of today’s working families.

The Center for American Progress first described the role of working mothers as breadwinners in 2009 with The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything, in a chapter titled “The New Breadwinners.

“Mothers across the United States continue to increase their rates of breadwinning and co-breadwinning for their families. Long gone are the days when the majority of middle- and upper-income women stayed home to raise families full time. Instead, in most families today, either both parents work or the household is headed by a single parent,” says the report.

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