As Mother’s Day approaches, we want to give a shoutout to all the working moms out here. We know that it can be a grind: 40% of full-time working mothers told the Pew Research Center that they don’t spend enough time with their kids and that being a working parent makes it harder to advance in their careers.
Nor are working moms some kind of minority: this is a reality for millions of American women in the workforce: 70.5% of all mothers with children under age 18 are working or looking for work in the U.S.
There’s a new study that wants to make it easier for working mothers by highlighting the best and worst states for them to balance raising their families and advancing their careers.
Using child care, professional opportunities and work-like balance as the criteria, finance website WalletHub analyzed government data sets and parental-related research for 50 states and the District of Columbia. They scored each state based on 13 metrics that included day-care quality and costs, gender pay gaps, share of families in poverty, commute times and parental leave policies. Child-care policies were weighted the most at 40 points.
Vermont is the best state, Alabama is the worst state
WalletHub concluded that Vermont, Minnesota and New Jersey were the overall top three states for working moms. Meanwhile, Nevada, Louisiana and Alabama ranked the lowest.
WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez explained the disparity between the best and worst state: “Vermont did well across all three categories analyzed,” she told Ladders. “It has the highest number of pediatricians in the country at 32 per 100,000 residents.
The lack of pediatricians sunk Alabama, however. “For this specific metric, Alabama ranked below average, 28th, with just seven pediatricians per 100,000 residents,” Gonzalez noted.
Vermont was overall the best for women’s careers because “in terms of professional opportunities, [Vermont] has the 6th highest ratio of female executives to male executives at 61%, almost two times higher than in Alabama at just 33%,” Gonzalez noted.
Additionally, “female unemployment in Vermont is low at just 3.1 percent, while in Alabama the unemployment rate is two times higher at 6.2 percent.”
Other interesting facts from the study: Hawaii has the lowest gender pay gap as a state and South Dakota has the best male-to-female executive ratio.
As part of the top ten states for working moms, New York had the top day-care system in terms of quality but also held the dubious honor of the 48th most expensive day care system in America.
“We considered that the quality of care that the states offer is more important than the costs, given the ‘get what you pay for’ mentality surrounding childcare,” Gonzalez said.
Flexibility is needed for working parents
For states to get ranked higher, government and employee policies will need to be part of the solution. Finding flexible work policies and better parental leave are at the top of every working parent’s mind.
As sociology professor Harmony D. Newman told WalletHub: “Although these policies have been linked with numerous positive outcomes for parents, children and employers, that they are few and far between, continues to leave many American families in the lurch.”
Newman said that government-funded pre-schools and better parental leave policies are key: “When parents can afford and feel secure in where their children are spending time while they are at work, parents are much more likely to be productive and remain committed to their work environment.”