Unfortunate statistics. Perhaps this is in part due to the trend in men going on strike.
You probably remember the headlines about “Breadwinner Moms” a few months ago. The Pew Center had published a report finding women are the best-paid workers in a record 40 percent of households with children under 18. That’s practically quadruple the 1960 number.
But a little detail was often lost in the large-font headlines. Sixty percent of “breadwinner-mom” families are really just single-mom families. In fact, single moms account for precisely one-quarter of U.S. households. Single dads make up another 6 percent.
In other words, the biggest story here isn’t the rise of female earners, exactly, even though that’s a distinct and powerful trend. This is really a story about a more astonishing fact: Single parents have more than tripled as a share of American households since 1960.
Single parent households exist in a different socioeconomic pool than married households. Single mothers earn incomes that place them well below married mothers in the income ladder. According to Pew, married mothers earned a median family income of $80,000 in 2011, almost four times more than families led by a single mom. This is likely a consequence of the lower educational qualifications of single mothers, as well as the fact that they are younger and more likely to be black or Hispanic. Married mothers tend to be older and are disproportionately white and college-educated.
Our own analysis, using data from the Current Population Survey March Supplement for 2007-2012 closely parallels Pew’s findings, with some interesting nuances. In 2007, a married mother earned an average income of $57,194, nearly double that of single moms. Even after the recession hit married couples the hardest, average real incomes of single moms were just 60 percent of married moms in 2012. Differences in incomes between single and married dads also persisted over the course of the recession.