Best and Worst States for Working Moms [2019]


2019 Best and Worst States for Working Moms

It’s that time again—WalletHub has released its annual ranking of the best and worst states for working moms. When FlexJobs reported on this last year, Vermont topped the list of U.S. states that are most amenable to the needs of mothers who juggle their family responsibilities with being a working professional, while Idaho was previously the state at the bottom of the heap for working moms.

This year, though, saw some notable shifts in the rankings. While Vermont still landed among the top five states, Massachusetts emerged as the overall winner, with a number-one ranking among all the states in metrics related to both child care and work-life balance (though Massachusetts was ranked 30th in terms of professional opportunities for working moms).

And Idaho, while still falling near the bottom of the list, moved up a few spots to be replaced by Louisiana as the absolute worst state for working moms. In 2019, Louisiana was ranked 50th among the states in child care and 48th in professional opportunities.

Below we’ve listed the top 10 best states and the bottom 10 states for working moms from the WalletHub ranking (just a note: though it’s a district, Washington, DC is listed as a state).

The 2019 Best and Worst States for Working Moms

Top 10 Best States for Working Moms in 2019

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Rhode Island
  3. Connecticut
  4. Vermont
  5. District of Columbia
  6. New Jersey
  7. Minnesota
  8. Wisconsin
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Washington

The 10 Worst States for Working Moms in 2019

  1. Arizona
  2. Texas
  3. West Virginia
  4. Georgia
  5. Nevada
  6. Mississippi
  7. Idaho
  8. South Carolina
  9. Alabama
  10. Louisiana

New York, which was ranked 10th last year, fell out of the top 10 best states to 20th, and Delaware, which had been 9th in 2018 is now solidly out of the top 10, at 14th. Maine also fell out of the coveted rankings, sliding from the 7th to 11th position. Washington state, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin at numbers 10, 9, and 8, respectively, are all new entrants to the top 10 best states for working moms this year.

One surprise is that California—which is generally associated with progressive policies for women including equal pay for equal work—appears near the bottom of the rankings in 2019, in 40th place, just missing the bottom 10. A big reason for this is that WalletHub’s research found the Golden State has been among the worst track records in the U.S. when it comes to child care, where it is ranked 49th, as well as professional opportunities, where it’s ranked a disappointing 47th.

How Are the Best and Worst States for Working Moms Determined?

How are these “best and worst state” rankings determined specifically for working moms? WalletHub uses 16 key metrics in three categories—child care, professional opportunities, and work-life balance—to determine all 50 states and the District of Columbia’s weighted average across the full range of metrics.

As part of the study, WalletHub gathered insights from experts about how to improve conditions for working moms, asking them questions ranging from the top five indicators of the best states for working moms, to which careers are hardest when it comes to balancing work and family.

Among the participating experts was Debra Lancaster, executive director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, who identified the tightening pay gap and state law on paid family leave as the top indicators in evaluating the best states for working moms.

In WalletHub’s report, Lancaster noted that while life events that involve the birth of children, aging parents, and family health issues can affect people regardless of what industry they work in, some employees may face special challenges: “[W]orkers on the lower end of the wage scale typically have fewer benefits that enable them to balance work and family. This is particularly true for those who work in retail, food service, hospitality, and some parts of the logistics industries.”

No matter what industry you’re in, though, if you’re a working parent, then it’s smart to keep a close eye on these rankings. Remember to factor in these findings as you evaluate potential job opportunities in different locations across the United States, since all states are clearly not equal when it comes to how working moms’ access to professional opportunities, child-care options, and managing the work-life juggle.

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