Breadwinner mothers in the US struggle hard amid covid times


Coronavirus pandemic has hit the economy of many families and the loss of employment jobs in sectors dominated by women will have a devastating impact of families, especially those headed by single mothers or where women are the primary or co-breadwinner. One in two of more than 30 million families in the United States have a breadwinner mother, who contributes at least 40 percent of the earnings to the household.

In the worst scenario, the Institute of Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) has come up with certain suggestions for helping the breadwinner mothers to come out of the situation. Ion their recent report “Holding Up Half the Sky”, the IWPR has said that recovery and relief efforts should include ways to support single mothers, who have dual roles of workers and primary caregivers during the pandemic.

The Women’s research group has asked for an increase in wages of all people. It said that an increase in wages would be of great help to local economies. This will also cut the number of working women living in poverty in half. Another suggestion was to bridge the gender wage gap. The wage gap means less income for families and increase of poverty. Poverty among working men could be halved once the wages of women are equalised at par with men workers.

The IWPR also recommended paid sick days and paid family and medical leave for all workers. Noting that paid leave has increased at the time of corona pandemic, they said that this should continue even after the pandemic is over. Moreover, they said that all mothers should have access to affordable and quality child care. With quality child care unaffordable for many families, Expanding child care subsidies could also increase parents’ access to quality child care, improve performance and advancement at work, and reduce child-care related work interruptions, the IWPR said.

The “Holding Up Half the Sky” report said that breadwinner mothers contribute at least 40 percent of the household’s income and earnings. IT said that these women are more likely to be employed in lower-wage jobs. These women are most likely to shoulder all responsibilities at home, including providing childcare.

White women are more likely to be breadwinner mothers. As per the estimate, there are about 16.8 million White mothers in the United States and a little less than half of them (8.0 million) are breadwinners. Four out of 5 Black mothers are breadwinners with a majority of Black mothers raising families on their own.

In the report, they said that about 64 percent of Native American mothers and 48 percent of Latina women are breadwinners. Asian/Pacific Islander mothers are the least likely to be breadwinners. They only form 43 per cent.

Among the States, Colorado and Washington have the lowest share of Black breadwinner mothers. IT said that there are more single Black breadwinner mothers than married ones in every state. The report said that the state of Alabama has the lowest share of Hispanic mothers who are breadwinners at 37 percent. And Massachusetts has the highest share of Latina breadwinner mothers at 69 percent.

With respect to Asia Pacific island mothers, Hawaii has the highest share at 56.8 percent.

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