It's no secret that single mothers are disproportionately likely to be poor, but the scope of the problem is still a bit of a shock. Not only are families headed by working mothers particularly likely to be poor, but they're becoming more so.
While 22 percent of families are headed by a working mother, women head 39 percent of all low-income families, according to a new report from the Working Poor Families Project. That's 4.1 million families. What's more, "The share of female-headed working families that are low-income increased from 54 percent in 2007 to 58 percent in 2012." Unsurprisingly, women of color are hit especially hard:
While female-headed working families make up about 39 percent of low-income working families nationwide, the proportion is much higher among African Americans (65 percent), compared with whites (36 percent), Asians (20 percent), Latinos (31 percent) and those in other racial groups (45 percent). However, in terms of overall numbers, whites account for the largest group of low-income, working families headed by single women (1.6 million).Women in this position face incredible barriers to success; just the lack of affordable, safe, reliable child care in this country prevents many women from being able to find or keep good jobs. Meanwhile, though 56 percent are working full-time, they are clustered in low-wage, low-benefits industries like retail and food service that leave their families near or below the poverty threshold.
This is a story in which a wide array of factors come together: America's sky-high income inequality, gender and race wage gaps, a low minimum wage, lack of parental leave and sick leave, the inaccessibility of higher education for many, and lack of child care. Just for starters. And since the United States also has low upward mobility, at least for people who are born at the bottom, children in these families are likely to be stuck in similar circumstances.
(Via Bryce Covert)