One in Five Working Mothers Work in Low Wage Jobs

This past weekend, we celebrated our moms.  Mothers are often faced with tough decisions on how pink_nwlc_fes_workingmothers1in4best to balance raising kids, while ensuring they grow up in a financially stable environment.  Surrounding Mother’s Day, Montana Budget and Policy Center is taking a look at the challenges facing low-income working mothers.  Last week we released a new report on the cost burdens of child care in Montana.

We were also struck by a recent study put out by the National Women’s Law Center that shows nearly one in five working mothers with young children work in low-wage jobs

All parents face difficult challenges in caring for young children and giving their family a quality life.  But many single mothers, who must be the primary caregiver and primary breadwinner, grapple with meeting even basic needs for their kids – a roof over their heads and a healthy meal on the table. On top of that, they face the additional challenge of finding affordable, quality child care for their children.

To make things more challenging, working mothers of very young children are disproportionately represented in low-wage occupationsIn Montana, almost 22% of working mothers with children younger than 3 years of age are working in low-wage jobs.  By contrast, 15% of Montana’s overall workforce work in low-wage jobs.  Low-wage jobs can bring on their own host of challenges.  They often involve unstable, unpredictable schedules, and lack paid sick or family leave.  As the National Women’s Law Center notes, “the very nature of [these] jobs and the financial insecurity that goes with them can create tremendous stress for parents[.]”

Policymakers and employers in the state should find ways to help all working mothers in Montana succeed. Improving access to quality, affordable child care is one of the first steps in this direction.  State funding for pre-K could help increase child care options for many working families, and help improve the lives of children.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the hard-working moms out there!  Together, we can make sure all moms are given the support they need to provide a successful future for their kids.

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