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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

The Recession Came for Single Moms, Too

When the stimulus was the talk of the town, some women piped up to note that the stimulus funds were seemingly targeted at male unemployment, only to be told

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Mar 09, 2010

When the stimulus was the talk of the town, some women piped up to note that the stimulus funds were seemingly targeted at male unemployment, only to be told that men were disproportionately unemployed. And while there’s been plenty of reporting on how the stimulus has given short shrift to African-Americans, J. Goodrich at Alternet finds that the stimulus has failed single moms at a disproportionate rate, too.

While men, as a whole, have a 10 percent unemployment rate to women’s 7.9 percent, there’s one select group of women beating men at the unemployment game: single mothers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a report released on Friday, showed the unemployment rate for married women at 6.1 percent, while that of single women “who maintain families,” in the parlance of the BLS, reached a whopping 11.6 percent — 68 percent higher than when the recession began. Add to that the fact that women, as a whole, earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man brings home, and you find many single women whose situation has gone from difficult to dire.

In fact, women with children earn even less than that — 68 cents on a man’s dollar, according to a report released today.

Goodrich notes, too, that groups of people most likely to suffer disproportionate unemployment during this recession — the less educated, the already-poor and people of color — are groups to which single mothers are disproportionately likely to belong.

Unmarried women with children are more likely to be found in all those group pictures than married women because they are younger, less educated and more racially and ethnically diverse. Even if they faced no additional workplace discrimination aimed at their marital/maternal status, these factors place them at a higher risk of joblessness than other women.

Of course, the suggested cure for a boy-only stimulus — more jobs for teachers and librarians in the legislation — would have had little effect on poor, less educated single mothers. The stimulus could have taken into account the disproportionate barriers to labor market access that many single mothers face — and a jobs bill still could.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


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