Which parent is working more?

Bureau of Labor Statistics data show some intriguing trends, but they don't get to the heart of the real question: Why do moms earn less?

By Jason Notte Apr 30, 2013 9:06AM
Image: Family (© Rubber Ball/Getty Images)Don't worry, kids. These charts from CNNMoney show how hard your parents are working and who you should thank for those daily meals and summer trips.

Using Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the site discovered that a full 59% of American households have both parents working. If you're big on "normal," those two incomes are what "normal" looks like for the average family these days.

Families in which only the father works represent roughly 31% of all homes with married families, while mothers alone shoulder the load in 6.5% of those homes. The more troubling statistic is the 3.7% of families in which neither parent works. That trails the current overall unemployment rate of 7.6%, but it provides some insight into trends tucked more deeply within the BLS numbers.

Staying home with the kids is a luxury fewer parents can afford, with 39% of mothers with children age 3 or younger working full-time, while 16% work at least part-time. A full 6% of mothers stay home simply because they don't have a job. If given the option, their preference would be to go to work.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the 39% of mothers with young children who are completely disinclined to either join or rejoin the workforce.

But what about single-parent households? Surely, it must be a bit different when only one income is paying everyone's way? A full 82% of employed single fathers would know about that, as do 69% of single mothers.

But the question above CNNMoney's charts is "Who brings home the bacon: Mom or Dad?" The answer: Why is that the question? Never mind that the query dismisses same-sex couples outright -- as charts based on the BLS numbers would because the government fails to recognize same-sex marriages and, by extension, same-sex parents.

The question also assumes that far larger factors than simply employment aren't also at play when it comes to earning potential and bacon-bringing.

Because they're typically paid 22.6% less than their male counterparts in the same jobs, women are basically forced to work 59 days for free each year. According to the Democratic Policy and Communications Center, women make $434,000 less than men on average over the course of their careers.

That starts right after college. Congress' joint economic committee says women make $7,600 less than men immediately following graduation. That trend continues to the latter stages of their careers, when Catalyst says women make up just 6.2% of top earners. New legislation should close that gender pay gap, but the Institute for Women's Policy Research says that won't happen until 2056 at this rate.

Even when women do level the playing field, it doesn't offer them the same options as men. In fact, women are 24% less likely to get a mortgage loan than men. Don't start asking who's bringing home the bacon when one group is getting pounds of ham while the other gets a bag of pork rinds.

More on moneyNOW

Apr 30, 2013 11:16AM

Woman of today should be all earning more than their male counterparts.


I am a male over 60 years old and run a good size manufacturing business. Plus I am very involved in my business community and see first hand how many other businesses are doing. My point!!! males of today do not work as hard as the females. Most are little "mama boys" who want to look pretty but do not know how to work nor do they want to learn. They certainly do not mature as fast as the females of today and in most cases never do.


For us in our business and my generation we prefer hiring females. Something clearly has happened to males in that they have become little boys who never will become a man. 

Apr 30, 2013 10:53AM
Several studies indicate that college educated women in their 20s (w/out kids) are actually making more money then their male counterparts.  Not sure why that shift isn't reported here.
Apr 30, 2013 12:24PM
This article is big on assumptions, small on data. You really need to compare men and women in the same jobs, at the same employers, with the same level of education, experience AND continuity (leaves of absence, etc.) in the same career.

For example, women tend to choose certain occupations more than men (particularly education) that may pay less. Women often take leaves of absence to have children. You can't get promoted when you are not at work.

You have to compare apples to apples.

"Staying home with the kids is a luxury fewer parents can afford".  I completely disagree with this statement on two fronts.   #1, almost any family can make this happen if they are focused on the task .  #2 amongst my network of friends & family in which both parent's work, the bulk of one parent's salary ends up going toward daycare related costs.  


Before my wife and I were married, we discussed the issue.  It was very important to her that she stay at home with our future children.  I promised that I would do whatever it took to make that happen.  We have been married for 10 years, have three boys with one on the way.  She has been able to stay home from day one.  I take GREAT PRIDE in knowing that my family is my responsibility.


Though I have carved out a decent living, we have had to make some sacrifices to make it work, sacrificies we are willing to make everyday for the greater good of our family. 


I came from a daycare family, and will not go down the "daycare is immoral" road.   I will say that my kids have much more time with their mom & dad than I did.  I can see what a difference it makes, and will never regret my decision.  Sure there are situations where one parent working just can't happen, I get it, but speaking from personal experience, it can happen for most if they would choose to do so.

Apr 30, 2013 12:53PM

Every time I make a little money the government steals 20-30% of it away from me to give away to other countries, lazy Americans and illegals. If my wife and I work longer or work extra the government hits us with the marriage penalty. If my wife and I work longer or work extra the government penalizes me for saving in a Roth. If I do well in the market, the government hits me with the AMT. My income is nowhere near $250,000. The only hope for this Republic is true Libertarianism.

Apr 30, 2013 12:12PM
Everything after the comma in the third paragraph is either the writer's opinion, or deals with only views that support the writer's opinion.  He's a writer, not a journalist.
Apr 30, 2013 1:50PM
Does it matter?  30 years ago 1 income families were the norm, now it takes 2 incomes to be average. 
Apr 30, 2013 2:39PM

Part of the problem is a lot of boys don't have role models(other men like dad) in their life.  Role models are pretty important for a young person to evolve into a contributing member of society.  There used to be a time, when teachers were mostly men, now they are mostly women.  So even if dad is not around or not doing his part, a boy can't even turn to his teacher anymore for role model support.

Apr 30, 2013 10:46AM
There are many reasons why women might earn less than men, the only one people want to mention is that male employers discriminate. 
Apr 30, 2013 12:22PM
All you have to do is look at the source of this hit piece.  The Democratic Policy and Communications Center.  Nuff said!
May 1, 2013 7:54AM
MSN is really starting to sink. Every day it's repeated articles with new headlines in a different spot. Sorry guys, it does not hide the fact that you are going down hill fast.
Apr 30, 2013 12:52PM
Started out okay until we got to the liberal crap about women making less. Will they ever stop?
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