Breadwinner Mothers by Race/Ethnicity and State

Julie Anderson, M.A.

September 8, 2016
  • ID: IWPR #Q054

With the large majority of U.S. mothers in the labor force and a steady decline in the real earnings of all workers over recent decades, families are increasingly relying on mothers’ earnings for economic stability. In the United States, half of all households with children under 18 have a breadwinner mother, who is either a single mother who heads a household, irrespective of earnings, or a married mother who provides at least 40 percent of the couple’s joint earnings. At the same time, women are more likely than men to shoulder unpaid caregiving responsibilities and many women, especially women of color, are more likely to be balancing work and care alone. The lack of work-family supports in the United States, such as paid sick days and paid family leave, coupled with the high cost of child care, places an additional burden on low-income women and women of color, who are the least likely to have employer-provided paid leave.