A new study confirms what so many exhausted, over-stretched mothers already know: moms are the primary breadwinners in more homes than ever before. That's despite the fact that both work life and family life in America aren't conducive to a working mom's reality. It's time for that to change. Taking stock of the reality of modern motherhood is a good first step.
The new report from the Center for American Progress, according to New York Magazine found that, in 2015, two-thirds of American mothers are either the primary, sole, or co-breadwinners for their households. Nearly half, 42 percent, of mothers were the primary or sole breadwinner for their families in 2015, New York Magazine reported.
The Center for American Progress, which did the study, points out that in 1976 56.3 percent of mothers worked for pay in the U.S. In 2015, that number rose to 69.6 percent. For black and Latina mothers, those numbers are even higher.
Yet at the same time, there is little being done to make workforce policies that would level the playing field for mothers.
It's time for mothers to demand and get equal pay. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, on average, women in 2015 across all sectors earn just 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. For women of color, the numbers are even worse: IWPR found that, in 2015, black women earned 63 cents on the dollar compared to white men, and Hispanic women earn on average just 54 cents on the dollar. That means that a family of four with a Hispanic woman as the primary breadwinner will likely not earn enough to live above the poverty line, and have an income that would qualify the family for food stamps, according to the IWPR.
Closing the wage gap once and for all with both federal and local mandates for equal pay would boost the incomes of a full two-thirds of American households with children, lifting many families out of poverty.
Besides closing the wage gap, paid family leave is an important part of making things more equitable for working mothers. According to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, only about one-third of employers offer paid parental leave.
And then there's the cost of daycare that working mothers are struggling to pay, all while earning less than their male colleagues. According to CNN, a recent report from think tank New America found that child care costs an average of $9,589 per year, making it more expensive than the average tuition for in-state college.
The harsh reality for American mothers is that we're in the workforce in greater numbers and yet neither the workforce nor the support systems mothers need to be able to go to work are adapting along with them.
"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," Sarah Jane Glynn, the author of the Center for American Progress report, told New York Magazine. "This is especially true for black and Latina mothers, who make up a disproportionate share of breadwinners.”
Paid family leave, equal pay, and a child care safety net are what working mothers in America desperately need. Now that there are more of them in the workforce than ever before, it's time to demand fair treatment for women, and the kids they're working to raise.