As the recession continues, more moms find their earnings under
The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire found
wives in 2008 contributed 45 percent of total family earnings, a
jump from 44 percent in 2007 and the largest single-year increase
in the past decade.
The recession is having a negative effect on men and putting more
pressure on women, says family demographer Kristin Smith, who
authored the report. The recession caused huge layoffs in
male-dominated fields such as construction and manufacturing, while
expanding female-dominated fields like health services and
"Seventy-two percent of job losses are men's jobs, so wives'
earnings are critical to keeping families afloat," says
Whether temporary or permanent, the recession highlights
decades-old changes. Women are working more, reaching higher
education levels and their salary levels are rising.
However, the recession highlights decades-old problems
too-inequity in the workplace and lack of policy support for
families where two parents are working and juggling child
"Women make 77 percent of what men make, so families are suffering
more," says Smith. "When the primary breadwinner becomes the wife,
who makes half of what men make, family earnings drop."
With women accounting for almost half of the workforce and higher
unemployment after the report data was collected, Smith predicted
the trend "would go up before it comes down."
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