May 7, 2019
Being a working mom can be tough no matter where you live, but according to a newly released report from WalletHub, it's better in some states than others. In order to determine which states were most attractive to working mothers today, the personal finance site compared key metrics like daycare quality, childcare costs, gender pay gap, the ratio of female to male executives, and parental-leave policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Based on this methodology, WalletHub ranked Massachusetts as the No. 1 state for working mothers in 2019. It was followed by Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. The worst state for working moms was Louisiana, while Mississippi, Idaho, South Carolina, and Alabama followed right behind.
Massachusetts ranked No. 1 in terms of childcare, which factors in daycare quality, the average cost of childcare, pediatricians per capita, and school system quality. The New England state also nabbed the top spot for work-life balance, which is a score based on parental-leave policy, the average length of a woman's work week, and average commute time. But Massachusetts only ranked 30th in terms of professional opportunities for working mothers.
Nebraska earned the No. 1 ranking for professional opportunities, which factored in median women's salaries, the gender pay gap, and female unemployment rate. But the Cornhusker State ranked significantly lower in terms of child care (30) and work-life balance (26). As a whole, WalletHub's report found that blue states are more friendly to working moms than red states.
Only a handful of states offer paid family leave. We may eventually see more states offering paid family leave, but until then, it's up to employers, says Anne E. Winkler, Ph.D., a professor of economics & public policy administration at University of Missouri at St. Louis.
"Given that we still lack federal paid family leave in the United States and it is unlikely to materialize in at least the short term, firms should provide paid leave so all workers—not just professionals—have the financial ability to take time off after the birth of a child," Winkler told WalletHub. "Such policies benefit firms as well as parents by improving worker morale and attachment to the firm."
Kerri J. Wade, MSW, LGSW, agrees that employers can and should do more to support working moms and dads. "I'm not referring to lip service, but actual policies and guidelines. It is understood that the goal of the company is to be profitable and for that to occur they need a workforce that shows up on time, works hard, and is dependable," said Wade, associate professor and assistant director of West Virginia University Extension Service's Families and Community Development Unit in Morgantown, West Virginia.
"This is true whether the company provides professional services or hospitality," added Wade. "However, if an employee has a family member to care for, whether that be a young child or an aging parent, that employee at times is going to struggle to simultaneously meet the needs of their employer and their family."
In the long and short term, happier, healthier parents make better, more productive employees. Here's hoping this WalletHub report has companies in every state thinking of ways to support working moms and dads.
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