We all know it is tough to be a working mom with young children – but a new NWLC analysis shows that some moms face particular challenges as breadwinners and caregivers.  They work in low-wage jobs, so it’s difficult to earn enough to meet children’s basic needs, such as a home in a safe community, nutritious food, and safe and stable child care—much less the high-quality child care that is especially important for children’s healthy development during the early years and particularly expensive.   In addition, the working conditions in many low-wage jobs also make parenting more difficult:  unstable, unpredictable schedules over which workers have little control, lack of paid sick or family leave, and discrimination on the job because of pregnancy or caregiving responsibilities.

NWLC used Census data to paint a picture of mothers with very young children (ages 0-3) who work in low-wage jobs (those that typically pay $10.10 per hour or less).  We found that:

  • Over 1.2 million mothers with very young children—nearly one in five working mothers with very young children—work in low-wage jobs.
  • More than half of these mothers are raising children on their own; half work full time; and over one-third are poor. 
  • These mothers are disproportionately African-American or Hispanic.  They are also less likely to have a college education than other workers.
  • Working mothers with very young children are disproportionately represented in low-wage occupations.  Nationally, nearly one in five (19.2 percent) working mothers of very young children are employed in low-wage occupations; in contrast, fewer than one in seven (13.9 percent) of all workers are employed in low-wage occupations. 
  • In every state, working mothers with very young children are disproportionately represented in low-wage occupations:

Learn About Tableau

Mothers are increasingly family breadwinners.  They need policies that support their family’s financial security and their children’s successful development, including raising the minimum wage, increasing access to high-quality child care and early education, improving scheduling policies, providing paid family leave and sick days, enforcing and strengthening laws against discrimination, strengthening income supports like tax credits that lift families out of poverty, and much more.