The Trump Economy Is Not So Great for Single Moms
Jobs data for June were released Friday and while the unemployment rate stayed about the same and the economy added about 222,000 jobs last month, things still managed to get worse for women who head families. We only have data for six months of the new administration and already it would seem Trump’s economy is doing very little to make America great for single-parent families, especially those headed by women.
The unemployment rate for unmarried women who head families was 6.9 percent in June—nearly triple the rate of married men. And since January, the unemployment rate for unmarried women who head families has increased while the unemployment rate for married men has declined.
Job loss has an impact on all families, but for families headed by only one unmarried earner – who is more likely to be a woman – the economic impact is greater. In families with at least one family member unemployed, families headed by unmarried women are more likely (49.9 percent) than families headed by unmarried men (41.5 percent) and married couple families (19.6 percent) to have no family member employed.
One in three single mother families lived in poverty in 2015 and over half of all poor children (56.2 percent) lived in families headed by unmarried women. More than half a million single women with children (11.2 percent) held full time jobs in 2015 and still lived in poverty. This is in part because working mothers are overrepresented in lower paying occupations and are especially hit hard by the wage gap. For example cashiers and retail sales are a top occupation for mothers, where their median wage is about $10.32 an hour—50 cents to every dollar paid to fathers in the same job, working the same number of hours each week.
Trump’s economy so far has not made things so great for single mothers, and his ill-conceived tax plan will only make it worse.
Though Trump has provided very little detail about his tax plan, we do know he’s proposed eliminating the head of household filing status for single parents and other single adults. Currently, single parents who pay for more than half of household expenses can file head of household, as opposed to filing as single, which reduces the amount of tax they owe by allowing them to take a larger standard deduction. The president’s proposed plan to eliminate the head of household filing status would mean a drastic tax hike on single-parent households. For example, it’s been estimated that a single parent making $50,000 a year with three school-age children and no child care costs could end up paying $1,188 more come tax day—the equivalent of about two months’ worth of childcare or two months’ worth of groceries for a family of four.
Eliminating the head of household filing status is unequivocally a tax hike on single-parent families, the vast majority of which (75 percent) are headed by women. According to most recent Census data, 76 percent of those who filed as head of household on their taxes were women, more than a third of whom were mothers with children under 5 years of age.*
As this month’s jobs data highlights, coupled with higher unemployment, lower wages, and a big wage gap, these tax hikes could be devastating for single moms and their bottom line.
*CPS data available via IPUMS. These data are self reported and will differ from IRS data on the actual number of people filing specific tax status.