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.


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  1. Posted May 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    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.

    • Posted May 31, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      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.

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