Employment Trends

The Best States for Working Moms

Written by Peter Jones

Working moms have it rough. They never feel like they’re spending enough time at work, and they never feel like they’re spending enough time with their kids. And they’re in the majority. Over 70% of mothers with children under 18 are either working or looking for work in this country right now.

In order to be a working parent, you need resources: some flexibility, a decent maternity leave, and a solid child-care system are only a few. These might seem like givens, but the fact is that there are some geographical regions that are friendlier to the working mom’s particular needs—and some that are… well, not friendly.

We know most of you don’t have the flexibility to up and move to a place that might better suit your family life, but if you’re looking for a place to plant roots, or are wondering if your state perches at the top or sits at the bottom, read on.

Who Has It Best?

Weighing criteria like child care, professional opportunities and work-like balance, WalletHub analyzed a ton of research and data sets for all 50 states (and D.C.) and determined the best places for working moms to live. The study was scored on 13 different metrics including day-care quality and cost, gender pay gaps, families in poverty, commute times, and parental leave. And weighted so that things like child-care were weighted most.

So where’s the best place to live if you’re a working Mom? Turns out? Vermont!

This New England state ranked well among all of the different criteria, plus it boasts the highest number of pediatricians per 100,000 residents. It also boasts the 6th highest ratio of female to male executives—61%! And unemployment for females is low, at only 3.1%. Vermont has good child care support and most people living there claim a pretty good work-life balance.

Minnesota and New Jersey were next in line. Minnesota has excellent professional opportunities for women, while New Jersey scores high for its child care options.

New York came in 9th—and came in first for day-care systems (though also one of the most expensive!!), and fifth for lowest gender pay gap. But other factors outrank it (mostly cost of living). Hawaii, notably, boasts the lowest gender pay gap around. And South Dakota, surprisingly, the highest female to male executive ratio.

Who Doesn’t Have It So Great?

Alabama, Louisiana, and Nevada sit at the bottom of the list. While female unemployment in Vermont rests at 3.1 percent, in Alabama it’s two times higher at 6.2 percent. Also, Alabama only has 7 pediatricians per 100,000 residents. And while Alabama and Louisiana are in the top 5 for “Lowest Child Care Costs,” they sit in the bottom 5 for “Worst Day Care Systems” and “Highest Gender Pay Gap.”

Until government and employee policies are updated to reflect the changing needs of the working family, flexible work policies aren’t likely to improve dramatically, and many (if not most) American families will be left in the lurch. So if moving to Vermont just isn’t feasible, be aware of what your state does and does not offer, and work to lobby your representatives to represent your best interests.

About the author

Peter Jones