Chart of the Day: Mothers are the sole or primary breadwinner in 40 percent of US households

chart of women breadwinners

According to a new Pew Research Center report, a record 40 percent of households now have a mother who is the sole or primary source of income for their families.

This figure includes two very different groups of women: 63 percent are single mothers and 37 percent are women who are married and have a higher income than their spouses. As Bryce Covert notes at Think Progress, the former group  is sitting pretty–at nearly $80,000 in 2011, their family income tends to be much higher than the national median. The single mothers, on the other hand, are earning just $23,000.

And, as a recent Legal Momentum report shows, the US is the worst place–no really, the actual worst of all high-income countries–to be a single parent.


Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • honeybee

    I hate to be nitpicking but the headline and info in your post is not accurate as currently stated.

    It isn’t that 40% of households have the Mom as the breadwinner, it’s that 40% of households WITH CHILDREN have a Mom as the breadwinner.

    Doesn’t change the significance much I know but considering the number of single people, childless people, etc. out there it does help put the numbers in perspective.

    We have to be accurate and clear in this business b/c we’d never let the other side get away with such distortions and it makes us look bad if people see us as playing with numbers to prove points.

    • Masa

      Doesn’t “mothers” imply children? If it was “women are the sole or primary breadwinner in 40 percent of US households”, I can see that as being inaccurate.

      Your point of being accurate to make sure we defend against accusations of inaccuracy still stands.