MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After decades of women entering the workforce, more and more mothers are now staying home with their children. According to a new Pew Research Center report, 29 percent of moms stayed at home in 2012, up from a low of 23 percent in 1999.
“The recent turnaround appears to be driven by a mix of demographic, economic and societal factors, including rising immigration as well as a downturn in women’s labor force participation, and is set against a backdrop of continued public ambivalence about the impact of working mothers on children,” wrote the study’s authors, D’Vera Cohn, Gretchen Livingston and Wendy Wang.
Other mothers say it’s partly due to the rising costs of daycare. In Minnesota, the average cost of full-time infant daycare is $13,875 a year.
“My paychecks would have gone directly to daycare,” said Amanda Holien of Anoka.
Many mothers say they stay home because they liked spending the first few years with their children.
“It was the overall lovely bond that we had,” said mother Kim Lee.
Jenny Keil, an economics professor at the School of Business and Hamline University, says the data doesn’t necessarily suggest many more women are choosing to stay at home. She ultimately expects the increase to level off as more women find work.
“Buried in this report farther is the fact that 6 percent of the women are unemployed, they can’t find a job,” she said. “What we know is most women want to be working.”
The report found most stay-at-home mothers are younger and about half have a high school diploma or less. The mothers appear on both ends of the income spectrum. About 5 percent of stay-at-home moms have a master’s degree and a husband who makes six figures, while 34 percent of the live in poverty.
“From a policy point of view, we have to think about the people that don’t have the choice to opt out,” said Keil, pointing out women who stay at home generally end up with lower wages, fewer promotions and less savings in the long-run.