Moms Are Bringing Home The Bacon Like Never Before And It’s Not Just The ‘Lean In’ Crowd

money in piggy bankMommies are bringing home the cash monies like never before according to a new Pew Research Center study. Mothers are outearning their husbands in nearly one in four American homes. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to there being a ton more Sheryl Sandbergs among us. In fact, this data explicitly points to the non-Marissa Mayer class.

NBC news reports that this is the highest level of female earnings in American history, up dramatically from 50 years ago:

Overall, women — including those who are unmarried — are now the leading or solo breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households, compared with just 11 percent in 1960, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau analyzed by Pew.

But it’s not necessarily all Lean In and you go with that stellar nursery in your office, you fancy CEO. Educated and privileged women are reportedly “catching up” with their male counterparts in the office. As well they should. Pew observed that despite women being now equally or even more educated than their husbands, many still earn less than their spouses.

But on the flip side, more single mothers are lingering near the poverty line as they try to put food on the table. And it’s these ladies who are primarily responsible for this trend and who are therefore “driving up the numbers.”

Take a look at this privilege:

Of the married women making more money than their spouses, 71 percent of the husbands are working and they have a median family income of $80,000, according to 2011 numbers.

In 1960, only 4 percent of married moms were making more than their husbands; now it’s 23 percent. That translates into 5.1 million married ”breadwinner moms.”

Of the women making more than their husbands, 49 percent have a college degree or higher and 65 percent are white. Most are also in their peak earning years — 67 percent of these women are between the ages of 30 and 50.

The other portion of these female breadwinners are women of an entirely different socioeconomic portrait. The single unwed mommy, as we have noted before, is on the rise:

 In 1960, only 5 percent of the mothers were unmarried, but as of 2010, that rate increased to 41 percent, according to research from the National Center for Health Statistics cited in the Pew report. The median income for a single mom in the United States who has never been married was $17,400 as of 2011. That can include income from a job, child support and government assistance.

Of the never-married mothers, 49 percent have a high school education or less and 46 percent are age 30 or younger.

Public opinion on this female breadwinning trend, according to this study, is “really conflicted” to quote the lead author Wendy Wang. While the financial benefits were reportedly noted by respondents, they did express concern about how female breadwinning might impact marriages and children. Because, you know, women earning money can never just be a good thing.

(photo: Melpomene / Shutterstock)

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