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Mothers in the Workforce: Takeaways from BPC-Morning Consult Poll

Today’s labor market is one of transition: What was once seen as a Great Resignation is turning out to be the Great Reshuffle. With labor supply restricted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and firms seeking millions of employees, many workers are using their leverage to obtain new roles at higher wages. Consequently, average wages are rapidly rising as workers are successfully demanding higher pay in an economy where resignations and job openings are near all-time highs.

A new BPC-Morning Consult poll reveals that there are some who are not sharing in this success: working mothers. Instead working moms face conditions that are quite the opposite. They are emerging from the pandemic in a financially fragile state, facing caregiving-related barriers to economic security, switching jobs, and advancing their careers. Mothers are leaving jobs to care for loved ones or changing roles for more flexible hours. These challenges are punctuated by 8% inflation in the near-term and negative earnings and career ramifications in the long-term.

The poll reveals that policy solutions targeted to address these challenges would have outsized positive impacts on working moms. Paid family leave, affordable childcare, workplace flexibility, and emergency savings accounts would enhance their financial security, advance their careers, positively influence their ability to support their families, and support their mental health. These impacts are not theoretical. Working moms who enjoy these benefits now cite them as instrumental in our poll.

Top Findings

  • Mothers in the workforce face heightened financial insecurity.
    • 59% of working moms are unable to go more than four weeks without pay and still afford basic needs, including 26% who are unable to go a single week without a paycheck.
    • Over half of mothers in the workforce (51%) feel less financially secure today than they did before the pandemic.
  • Caregiving poses long-term barriers to career advancement and entrepreneurship, which may contribute to gender pay inequities in the years to come.
    • Large majorities of mothers in the workforce are not comfortable taking a new job that aligns with their career interests but would require more demanding hours (73%), offer less workplace flexibility (61%), less job security (79%), or fewer benefits (73%).
    • Among mothers who would like to start their own business, 53% cite caregiving for children as a barrier to doing so, including 72% of those without access to affordable childcare.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic compounded these challenges, forcing mothers to make difficult decisions and sacrifice their well-being.
    • During the pandemic, caregiving responsibilities led roughly one-third of working mothers to reduce work hours (33%), change jobs to have more flexible hours (29%), choose to not pursue career opportunities (35%), and modify their career ambitions (37%).
    • Caregiving responsibilities also led over half of working mothers to reduce spending on everyday essential items like groceries and transportation (53%), reduce spending on non-essential activities like going out to eat (66%), and take less time for themselves (62%).
  • Policy solutions and employer-provided benefits would have outsized positive impacts on working mothers’ careers, financial stability, families, and mental health.
    • 62% of mothers in the workforce say flexible work hours and the ability to work from home would help them fulfill their family responsibilities and positively impact their mental health and stress level.
    • 56% say affordable, quality childcare would positively influence their ability to work longer hours and advance their careers, while 51% say it would increase their comfort level switching jobs.
    • 59% say an emergency savings account would increase their own financial security.
    • 53% say paid family leave would help them stay in the workforce.

Survey Parameters

Morning Consult surveyed a national sample of 2,500 employed and self-employed mothers in the workforce. The survey was conducted April 19-29, 2022.

Top Five Takeaways

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