A new analysis released today by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research
(IWPR) finds that four in five Black mothers and two in three Native American mothers are breadwinners, compared with fewer than half of White and Asian/Pacific Islander mothers. Breadwinner moms are either raising children on their own or contributing at least 40 percent of a married couple’s earnings. The majority of Black, Native American, and Hispanic breadwinner moms are single and raising a family on their own, while the majority of White and Asian/Pacific Islander breadwinner mothers are married.
Significant numbers of families across each racial and ethnic group depend on a mother’s earnings. Of the approximately 18 million White mothers in the United States, nearly half (8.9 million) are breadwinners. Just more than half (3.1 million) of the 5.9 million Hispanic mothers are breadwinners. Of the 3.7 million Black mothers, 3 million are breadwinners and more than 6 in 10 of them are raising families on their own.
“Mothers of all races and ethnicities are increasingly serving as breadwinners for families across the country,” said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “But Black, Native American, and Hispanic mothers are especially likely to be raising families on their own. Millions of families of color are being squeezed by both race and gender discrimination in the labor market.”
The paper includes state-level analysis of the distribution of married and single breadwinner mothers and found that a higher share of Black mothers are breadwinners than White or Hispanic mothers in every state in the country. Other findings on the geographic differences in the number of breadwinner mothers vary by race and ethnicity:
–White mothers: Among White mothers, the share who are breadwinners ranges from a low of 34.2 percent in Utah to a high of 59.5 percent Vermont. In each state except West Virginia, the share of White breadwinner mothers who are married is greater than the share who are single.
–Black mothers: The state with the lowest share of Black breadwinner mothers is Washington (71.9 percent); the state with the highest share is Wisconsin (88.1 percent). There are more single Black breadwinner mothers than married breadwinner moms in every state.
–Hispanic mothers: Alabama is the state with the lowest share of Hispanic mothers who are breadwinners (40.4 percent); the highest share is in Massachusetts (72.2 percent). In all but two states, Arkansas and Idaho, single Hispanic breadwinner mothers outnumber married breadwinner mothers.
The analysis concludes with policy recommendations to help support the growing numbers of families that rely on working mothers for economic stability, including raising the minimum wage; greater enforcement of the Equal Pay Act, the Civil Rights Act, and similar state laws; protecting and strengthening collective bargaining rights; and increasing access to child care, paid sick days, and paid family and medical leave.
“Federal and state policymakers, employers, and communities can be doing more to support breadwinner mothers, and in so doing will create a better future for our children,” Dr. Hartmann said.
This analysis is part of a series of IWPR research products on topics relevant to the 2016 election. Other topics include the gender wage gap, the benefits of paid sick days, student parents, and the status of women of color in the United States.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.