Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Analysis Finds that Illinois Women Are Breadwinners in Nearly Two-Thirds of Families
Press Release

RELEASE: Analysis Finds that Illinois Women Are Breadwinners in Nearly Two-Thirds of Families

Washington, D.C. — An analysis released by the Center for American Progress shows that Illinois mothers are the primary or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds—or 62.1 percent—of Illinois families. Moreover, more than 7 in 10 Illinois women are in the labor force.

However, despite the critical role Illinois women play in the economic security of their families and the state’s economy, many Illinois women face unique challenges at work and at home that can undermine their ability to thrive in the workforce and provide for their families.

In Illinois and across the United States, many workers lack access to common-sense work-family policies such as paid sick days and paid family and medical leave—putting a singular burden on women, who still bear the lion’s share of responsibility for unpaid work at home. Furthermore, despite their role as family breadwinners, Illinois women earn just 79.2 cents for every dollar that Illinois men earn. The wage gap is even larger for black women and Latinas in Illinois, who earn 63.9 cents and 47.9 cents for every dollar that white men earn, respectively.

Meanwhile, many Illinois families lack access to affordable high-quality child care options. Sixty-six percent of Illinois children younger than age 6 have all available parents in the workforce, which makes access to affordable, high-quality child care a necessity. However, for an Illinois family with one infant and one 4-year-old, child care costs an average of $22,934 per year—nearly one-third of the median income for an Illinois family with children.

“Like many women throughout the United States, far too many Illinois women encounter obstacles that make it extremely difficult for them to thrive in the workplace while also caring for their families,” said Danielle Corley, Research Assistant for Women’s Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Common-sense policies such as expanding affordable child care, providing paid family and medical leave, and ensuring workers the right to earn paid sick days would go a long way toward helping families balance the demands of work and family.”

As CAP’s analysis demonstrates, the right policies can go a long way toward helping all Illinois women gain economic security. In order to promote women’s economic security, policies should address the needs of working mothers and reflect the roles that women are playing to provide for their families.

Providing access to paid sick days; expanding paid family and medical leave; ensuring equal pay; expanding quality, affordable child care; increasing the minimum wage; guaranteeing access to quality health care; and promoting women’s political leadership are all areas in which policymakers and advocates can help women bolster their families’ economic security.

Read the fact sheet: Fast Facts: Economic Security for Illinois Families by Ryan Erickson and Danielle Corley

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at or 202.478.5328.