Washington, D.C. — A new analysis by the Center for American Progress finds that in 2015, nearly two-thirds—64.4 percent—of mothers were primary, sole, or co-breadwinners for their families. This represents an increase over previous years and further demonstrates the importance of women’s earnings and economic contributions to their families.
CAP’s report also provides new analysis examining the differences in breadwinning based on race and location, including by state and region. Among its most notable findings, the report reveals that black and Latina mothers are more likely to be breadwinners than white mothers. In fact, 70.7 percent of black mothers and 40.5 percent of Latina mothers were primary or sole breadwinners in 2015, compared with 37.4 percent of white mothers.
“This analysis further shows that the days of the full-time, stay-at-home mom are long over for a majority of U.S. families,” said Sarah Jane Glynn, Senior Policy Adviser at the Center for American Progress and author of the report. “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.”
According to CAP’s analysis, 42 percent of mothers were sole or primary breadwinners in 2015, bringing in at least half of their families’ income. Nearly another one-quarter of mothers—22.4 percent—were co-breadwinners, bringing home between 25 percent and 49 percent of earnings for their families. Other key findings from the report include:
- Higher levels of education are associated with higher levels of breadwinning and co-breadwinning for mothers.
- Younger women and women in the bottom income quintiles are more likely to be breadwinners but less likely to be co-breadwinners compared with older and higher-income mothers, respectively.
- Mothers on the West Coast were the least likely to be either breadwinners or co-breadwinners in 2015, while Midwest mothers were the most likely.
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 need. Issues such as the gender wage gap and 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.
At a time when women’s wages are so vital to keeping their families afloat, America cannot afford to sit idly by and do nothing. CAP’s report calls on policymakers to update the nation’s labor standards and to put in place family and worker-friendly policies to ensure that all working families have the supports they need.
Read the report: Breadwinning Mothers Are Increasingly the U.S. Norm by Sarah Jane Glynn
- The Cost of Work-Family Policy Inaction by Sarah Jane Glynn and Danielle Corley
- What’s Keeping Women’s Pay in the Mad Men Era? by Andrew Satter, Sarah Jane Glynn, and Kaitlin Holmes
- Breadwinning Mothers, Then and Now by Sarah Jane Glynn
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at gro.ssergorpnacirema@eneikc or 202.478.5328.