Working Mamas

The Best And Worst States For Working Moms, Ranked

The report also featured expert analysis on how local and state governments can help improve the quality of life for working moms.

Originally Published: 
A working mom and her family hustling out the door for work and school. A new report from WalletHub ...
Ariel Skelley/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Roughly 68% of moms with kids under the age of 18, whether by choice or for financial necessity, have a part-time job or full-time career on top of doing the 80-million+ tasks of raising kids. And, as any woman with a 9-to-5 can tell you, gender equity in the workforce still has a long way to go.

A new report from WalletHub surveyed working moms across the country, and it turns out that what state you live in as a working mom also plays a massive role not just in pay equity, but in your overall quality of life.

For its report, WalletHub compared survey responses from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. spanning three key dimensions on a 100-point scale: Child Care (40 points), Professional Opportunities (30 points), and Work-Life Balance (30 points).

Each of these categories break down into relevant weighted metrics. For example, under ‘Child Care,’ ‘Day-Care Quality’ is granted double weight (10 points), whereas ‘Child-Care Costs’ is granted full weight (5 points).

According to the report, Massachusetts is the best state for working moms with a total score of 62.99. Louisiana is the worst with a total score of 27.38. The report also includes this handy data visualization where you can hover over your state and see how it ranks:

To glean further insight, WalletHub also reached out to a panel of experts to not only interpret the data, but to give actionable advice as to how to address workplace gender inequality — especially for working moms.

The experts also talked about more than 2.3 American women have dropped out of the workforce from 2019-2021 — noting that the pandemic and societal expectations of women as caretakers has played a significant role in this.

Mary K. Trigg, Associate Professor, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Institute for Women's Leadership at Rutgers University, made an argument for paid parental leave, noting that only eight states have publicly funded paid maternity leave.

“In light of this, companies can help working parents balance home and work life by providing paid maternity and paternity leave... and by making certain that both women and men who take advantage of paid leave around the birth or adoption of a child are not stigmatized for doing so.”

According to Trigg, nearly “four in five private-sector workers have no access to paid family leave. More states can pass paid maternity and family leave legislation.”

The U.S. is one of eight countries without publicly funded paid maternity leave.

David Rothwell, Associate Professor, Barbara E. Knudson Endowed Chair in Family Policy, College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University, also advocated for state and local governments to step in when the federal level policies fail working parents.

“In the absence of a federal policy, state and local governments can provide paid family leave and paid sick leave – at least 10 states have passed some form of paid family leave policy.”

Rothwell also advocated for state and local government to work to provide better access to high-quality daycare.

“At present, families struggle to find daycare spots and if they do, they are often unaffordable. Federal proposals to address the child care crisis suggest a cap of 7% of family monthly income to daycare. At present, most families are paying much more than 7%.”

Massachusetts, which ranked as the best state to live in as a working mom, also has one of the highest costs of child care, with some Massachusetts parents spending more than half of their income on it.

James P. Huguley, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, also advocated for paid parental leave, but highlighted how companies can help working moms avoid burnout, a very real condition experienced by 1 in 4 parents, with flexible work being a high priority.

“Flexible work arrangements (work from home, work remotely), supplemental child care provisions like employers offsetting unexpected costs, housing allowances in cities with skyrocketing housing costs, and need-based child supplemental medical care supports, especially for parents of special needs children,” are all ways companies can help prevent burnout for working parents.

Paid family leave, flexible work hours, and access to affordable childcare all feel like pretty reasonable requests. Time to step up and support working moms, state and local governments!

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