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The Best and Worst States for Working Moms

3 minute read

Moms do it all, but it’s easier for them to juggle careers and children in some places than in others. Just in time for Mother’s Day, a new survey ranks which states are best for working moms, based on an analysis of child-rearing services, professional opportunities and work-life balance metrics.

According to personal-finance site WalletHub.com, the best state for working moms is Oregon, where work-life balance is the best in the nation. In second place, Washington, D.C. comes in with the top ranking for professional opportunities. Vermont, Maine and New York, in that order, round out the top five. Delaware, in at number six, has the top child-care ranking in the country.

The Northeast makes up an outsized percentage of the top 10: After Delaware, WalletHub lists Rhode Island, California, Massachusetts and Ohio.

On the flip side, three of the bottom five states in the survey are in the South: Louisiana gets the dubious distinction of being in last place, with Mississippi just above it and South Carolina also in the bottom five. Two Western states, Idaho and Wyoming, round out the lowest five.

To evaluate how friendly each state is in terms of child care, careers and work-life balance, WalletHub looks at a few different factors in each category. For measuring how good a state is at providing working moms with child-care-related solutions, it looks at day care quality and the cost of child care relative to the average working woman’s salary, along with public school quality and the number of pediatricians. States’ career-related rankings are based on the degree to which there’s a gender-related pay gap and the ratio of female to male executives, and work-life balance is assessed based on the state’s parental leave policy, and the length of the average woman’s workday and daily commute.

Looking at this more granular data shows that, even in high-ranking states, things can be tough for working mothers. “It’s clear that something must be done to increase workplace gender equality and ease the burden on working parents, but there is significant debate about what that ‘something’ should be,” WalletHub says in its report. “Progress, it would seem, is taking shape at different rates across the country.”

For example, even though New York ranks fifth overall, it has the most expensive child care. Meanwhile, 35th-ranked Alabama has the best female-to-male executive ratio in the country, and among the cheapest child care.

Experts interviewed by WalletHub say technology is a big factor shaping working moms’ experiences, for better and for worse. It gives them flexibility to, say, check email while at a little league game or waiting in the doctor’s office, but it also ramps up the expectations of and demands on their already-precious time.

Legislation mandating paid sick and family leave time as well as more flexible work options would help alleviate the crunch, they say, as would more comprehensive and affordable child care options. Women earning on par with their male counterparts and occupying more corner offices will also help level the playing field, they assert. “Less than 5% of Fortune 500 companies have female chief executives,” WalletHub points out, adding, “Female CEOs seems to be drastically underpaid relative to their peers.”

While working moms might get flowers or a spa day this Mother’s Day, this report shows that “having it all” is still an elusive goal for most.

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