A Closer Look

America’s Silent Crisis – Single Working Mother

Single mothers are raising more of America’s children than ever before. And for many of them, the economic precipice is creeping closer and closer.

For decades the number of single-parent families has climbed higher, with the overwhelming majority of these households led by women. In 1960, just 5 million children under 18 lived with only their mother. By 1980 that number had more than doubled. Today, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 19 million children live in single-mother families, up from 17 million in 2000. In some school districts today, including several in New York and Michigan, the majority of families are led by a single mother.

This seismic shift in the social and economic landscape comes amid tough economic times that are hitting single mothers especially hard, as New York Times writer Jason DeParle reported this weekend in his lengthy piece on declining marriage rates among the poor. In December 2007 the unemployment rate for single mothers sat below 7 percent. Today that number has leapt to nearly 12 percent, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Most of these women work at least part-time, though finding work has gotten tougher. As Bureau of Labor Statistics Data shows, the percentage of single mothers employed in an average month dropped from 76 percent in 2000 to 68 percent a decade later. A combination of the overall economic slowdown, public sector job cuts, and an economy that favors the college-educated helps explain the soaring numbers in America’s increasingly dual-speed economy…

via America’s Silent Crisis: The Plight of the Single (Working!) Mother – Gayle Tzemach Lemmon – The Atlantic.

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