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40% Breadwinner Moms - Scourge or Savior?

Updated on June 3, 2013
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Queen Bee
Queen Bee | Source

Much ado has been made of Pew Research reporting that as of 2011, 40% of households with children under 18 count on the mother as the primary breadwinner in the home - up from just 10% in 1960.

On face value, this is very good news, as women are making strides in their independence, equity, and earning power.

Why the caveat?

Because women have a number of intrinsic values superior to those of men. Women have been outperforming men in schools for decades, earning at least 9 million more college degrees than that male counterparts since 1980.

So the question begs itself - why now?

Wailing & Gnashing of Teeth

Many of a certain political persuasion are pooh-poohing the Pew Report as evidence of a crumbling society. Some are pointing to the supposed immorality of a nation with so many single-mothers. Others are lamenting the disintegration of marriage. Many are wringing their hands over the fragile morale of men, considering the shame of having a wife who brings home the bacon...

The report notes that 78% of Republicans, and (64% overall) consider the growing number of children born to unwed mothers to be a "big problem."

Certainly the number of single-mothers has increased - but of Breadwinner Moms, the rate of single-to-married BMs rate hasn't changed all that much:
32% of BMs were married in 1960, compared to 37% in 2011 - an increase of just 5%. Similarly, 67% of BMs were single in 1960, compared to 62% in 2011 - a decrease of just 5%.

Year
Breadwinner Moms
Married BMs
Single BMs
1960
10.8%
3.5%
7.3%
2011
40.4%
15%
25.3%
Source

In other words, many more women are supplying the lion's share (lioness' share?) of the earning power to families, which is a positive thing for both women themselves and for society as a whole.

This report should not be viewed as an opportunity to criticize American society for a simple increase in single-mothers. If anything, it should be used as an excuse to study the poor treatment of single-mothers, and women in the workforce in general.

After all, there is plenty to critique.

Lioness
Lioness | Source
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Mancession?

Popular view amongst mouth-breathers aside - there are larger points to be made:

This report is not bad news because of traditional role concerns of women in society - this report is bad news because it points to the strategy of the corporate profiteers running our country.

Perhaps bad news is a bit harsh. I say bad news only because what I learned was disturbing - not for women (do your damn thing, girl!), but for the state of the country on whole.

Employers have taken advantage of a recession and women's pay disparity (which they've created) to maximize corporate profit margins.

When the Great Recession was taking hold in November of 2007, the unemployment rate was 4.5% overall both amongst men and women - 78m men & 68m women were employed (147m total). By March 2010, only 72m men & 65m women were among 137m employed (11.8% & 8.3% unemployment, respectively).*

Thus, men represented roughly 65% of the 10m net jobs lost over two-and-a-half years. Hence, the Mancession reports a few years back. Millions of manufacturing jobs were lost. Married men and men with degrees have maintained steady employment levels, though many are taking lesser-paying jobs in service and sales - jobs which cannot be easily outsourced. Hence, those without secondary education whom would otherwise be working the sales and service jobs are now pushed toward the unemployment lines.

Source

She-Covery?

A closer look shows that while males were the first to lose their jobs (many in manufacturing) in the recession, they also began recovering jobs first. Women were able to hold on for longer partly because of the stimulus which propped up the public sector, which is compromised of 48% female workers. However, between 2007 and 2011, 70% of public sector jobs shed had been held by women.

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Given that public sector employment has decreased, yet overall employment has increased - where are women being employed? Despite largely being better educated than their male counterparts, women hold two-thirds of minimum wage jobs. Plus, half of all jobs created last year pay under $30k annually. In an economy based increasingly upon service jobs, this trend is sure to continue.

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Sally Ride
Sally Ride | Source

When the unemployment number is high, there is more competition for jobs. It's an employers' market, in other words. They are able to offer lower wages because there are four applicants for job opening - they can always hire another replacement at bargain basement cost. And the new hire is glad to take the slave-wage job because they're better off than the other three saps who didn't get the job.

What have corporations done with this new-found freedom? Why reduce wages, of course. When you can hire a woman to do the same job as a male for 20% less - at some point profit will inevitably overrule any ancient ideology regarding traditional gender roles that would have women bare-foot and in the kitchen.

Not just women, but especially childless women. A recent Cornell University study concluded that mothers are offered $11k less than childless women. And of single women - the Pew study notes that median single BMs earn just $23k/yr, while married BMs' household income is $80k/yr.

According to the BLS, two-thirds of the increase in women (over 16) from November 2011 to April 2013 are single women.

What does it all mean? Companies are glad to hire better-educated women at lower pay than men, glad to hire single women at lower pay than married, glad to hire mothers at lesser pay than childless women. To top it off, men with kids are strangely offered more pay than men without, a stark contrast to how women are treated.

In conclusion, the prison industrial complex and the offshoring of manufacturing jobs has resulted in a shortage of suitable husbands. And after years of outperforming men in schools, women are finally being rewarded i.e. being employed and paid in greater numbers. Unfortunately, corporations are taking advantage of low employment and lack gender-gap standards to maximize production and profits.

Three cheers for the advances made by women. But - is the rise in Breadwinner Moms simply due to the undeniable increased superiority of women overall, due to corporations taking advantage of the pay-gap they themselves enforce to maximize profits, or due to the coming apocalypse?

Source
Females Over 16
November 2007
March 2010
April 2013
Employed
68,438
65,730
67,695
Employed Single
18,576
17,543
19,608
Employed Married
35,771
34,804
34,346
Employed "Other"
13,783
13,284
13,645
Unemployed
3,174 (4.5%)
5,982 (8.3%)
4,843 (6.7%)
Unemployed Single
1,384 (6.9%)
2,363 (11.9%)
2,286 (10.4%)
Unemployed Married
1,124 (3%)
2,149 (6%)
1,582 (4.4%)
Unemployed "Other"
706 (4.9%)
1,444 (9.8%)
1,073 (7.3%)
Non-Participant
48,816
50,427
54,261
Married Non-Participant
23,259
23,173
25,323
Single Non-Participant
10,601
12,143
13,035
"Other" Non-Participant
14,619
15,311
15,982
Males Over 16
November 2007
March 2010
April 2013
Employed
78,680
72,253
76,029
Single & Employed
22,387
20,273
22,233
Married & Employed
46,263
43,335
44,024
"Other" Employed
9,834
9,026
9,891
Unemployed
3,722 (4.5%)
5,982 (8.3%)
6,172 (7.5%)
Single & Unemployed
2,048 (8.4%)
4,513(18.2%)
3,190 (12.5%)
Married & Unemployed
1,218 (2.6%)
3,190 (6.9%)
2,017 (4.4%)
"Other" Unemployed
544 (5.2%)
1,616 (15.2%)
1,017 (9.3%)
Nonparticipant
30,289
32,722
35,675
Married Non-Participant
14,203
14,505
15,858
Single Non-Participant
10,799
12,28
13,335
"Other" Non-Participant
5,333
6,079
6,902

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    • Gcrhoads64 profile image

      Gable Rhoads 3 years ago from North Dakota

      I think some men are very threatened by the idea of women being able to take care of themselves. This is the best article I've read on this subject. +++

    • Justin Earick profile image
      Author

      Justin Earick 3 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      Why thankya kindly, much appreciated.

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