Reading the results of today’s WalletHub study on the best and worst states for working moms, well let’s just say that this working mom’s eyes are wide open: 70% of moms with children under 18 are employed, so this is info that really impacts our country as a whole.
There’s some great news in the study…and then some states that make me want to storm the governors’ offices and state legislatures, and go all Gloria Steinem on them.
The WalletHub methodology is pretty fascinating, at least for a data nerd like me.
(And for these purposes, let’s just establish that “working mom” means moms earning an income because yes, of course all moms work.)
Essentially, a team of college professors and researchers looked at 13 key metrics, which they weighted and averaged, including quality of daycare and school systems, average childcare costs, pediatricians per capita, professional opportunities, gender pay gap, median women’s salary, and female unemployment rate.
They even factored in three “work-life balance” metrics that include parental leave policies by state, average work week hours, and average commute time. It ended up yielding some fascinating data about the best and worst states for working moms.
data compiled via WalletHub.com
There are definitely some surprises here, like South Dakota offering the highest ratio of female-male executives. Delaware, Washington, DC, and Minnesota rank the highest in overall professional opportunities. And New York (yay for my home state!) is tops on state daycare scores.
If it’s work-life balance you’re after most however, California may be your next move.
Because, sunshine. And parental leave policies.
But if you look at the aggregate scores, it’s easy to see that the northeast overall — plus Minnesota and Illinois — are definitely doing right by working women. I’m hoping more states can take a look at what they’re doing right and follow suit.
I’m going to jump right to Idaho here, wondering why it has such a low childcare ranking, with the worst daycare systems in the nation according to these metrics. Especially when states with lower incomes are doing better when it comes to childcare for working moms.
(Not cool, Governor Otter. Lack of affordable care holds working mothers back — especially single mothers — and hurts local economies in both the short-term and the long-term. Let’s see how we can fix that, okay?)
Then there’s Utah, which is a lovely state, but needs to get with the program when it comes to opportunities for women overall.
According to the most recent numbers from the Utah Dept of Workforce Services, 73% of moms with school-age children are working outside the home, which is a higher number than I’d have thought. Still, WalletHub is scoring the state in the bottom three of gender pay gap — and absolute bottom when it comes to female vs. male executives.
But what is easily the most disturbing fact of the study to me: 51% of Mississippi’s single-mom population is below the poverty line.
That goes beyond disturbing and makes me ragey.
What’s wrong with us as a society when we don’t support women working desperately to support their children? I’ve always believed we are only as strong as our weakest citizens. So for the good of us as a nation, let’s figure out how to have fewer struggling working moms everywhere, starting in Mississippi.
How we can all be winners
Think of that adage about a rising tide lifting all boats, because it’s true.
Our communities, states, and the country as a whole does better when working moms have more childcare support, better public schools, income equality, and more opportunities for advancement. This isn’t a political issue, this is an economic issue. And a moral one, in my view.
The good news: we can make it happen! In our democracy, we all have the ability, if not obligation, to speak up to our elected representatives, and let them know what matters to us. If enough of us speak up, loudly enough and often enough, they will hear us.
I recently featured 3 great political apps that makes it easy to have your voice heard and that’s a fantastic place to start. Whether you’re a work-out-of-the-home mother or not, get on the phone (or email or texting app) and let’s get to fixing the things we desperately need to fix.
Oh, and if your state happens to score highly for working moms in ways that matter to you? You can take a moment to thank your elected leaders too.
They definitely like hearing from happy constituents any time at all.