The Best and Worst States for Working Moms

Some states are better than others for working moms.

May 25, 2014 at 1:30PM

While women now comprise roughly half of the American workforce, they make about two-thirds as much money as men and have far less upward mobility, as evidenced by the fact that less than 5% of Fortune 500 companies have female chief executives. Even the new crop of high-profile female CEOs seems to be drastically underpaid relative to their peers.

Such obvious inequality has spawned a great deal of debate about gender roles in a shifting socioeconomic environment, not to mention renewed presidential emphasis. "A woman deserves equal pay for equal work," President Obama said in his 2014 State of the Union address. He continued: "She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship -- and you know what, a father does, too."

Workplace inequality is an important issue to address not only in the spirit of a merit-based economy, but also for deeply ingrained social reasons. Should women have to choose between their careers and their families? And, even more importantly, are we prepared to accept the societal consequences of these under-the-gun decisions?

The real question, however, is what we're doing about this fundamental problem. Progress, it would seem, is taking shape at different rates across the country. Not only do parental-leave policies and other legal-support systems vary by state, but the quality of infrastructure -- from cost-effective day care to public schools -- are far from uniform, as well.

In order to help ease the burden on an inherently underappreciated segment of the population, WalletHub analyzed state and local dynamics across nine metrics in order to identify the best and worst states for working moms. A complete breakdown of our findings, as well as additional information about the methodology we used to conduct this study, can be found below.

Source: WalletHub.

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Overall Rank

State Name

Child Care Rank

Professional Opportunities Rank

Work-Life Balance Rank

1 Oregon 15 10 1
2 District of Columbia 11 1 34
3 Vermont 15 13 4
4 Maine 18 12 4
5 New York 10 7 21
6 Delaware 1 10 46
7 Rhode Island 26 3 7
8 California 17 17 11
9 Massachusetts 4 19 15
10 Ohio 4 23 12
11 Minnesota 22 16 8
12 Maryland 3 5 51
13 Arizona 20 5 36
14 New Hampshire 7 21 29
T-15 Tennessee 2 32 31
T-15 New Jersey 8 32 14
17 Connecticut 20 41 3
18 Kentucky 19 28 17
19 Florida 29 4 40
20 Nebraska 37 2 23
21 Montana 40 19 2
22 Illinois 23 34 18
23 South Dakota 37 7 33
24 North Dakota 30 23 19
T-25 Virginia 11 38 42
T-25 New Mexico 34 14 29
T-25 Indiana 13 46 24
28 Utah 13 51 15
T-29 Wisconsin 44 26 6
T-29 Hawaii 49 9 19
31 Arkansas 31 25 36
32 Texas 8 43 49
T-33 Washington 39 40 9
T-33 Oklahoma 26 29 41
35 Alabama 33 18 45
36 Alaska 36 26 26
37 West Virginia 25 30 44
38 Michigan 26 42 28
39 North Carolina 24 35 42
40 Iowa 44 35 10
41 Georgia 6 49 50
42 Pennsylvania 43 22 24
43 Missouri 32 38 38
44 Colorado 42 37 22
45 Kansas 40 45 26
46 Nevada 51 14 47
47 South Carolina 48 31 38
48 Idaho 44 48 13
49 Wyoming 44 44 31
50 Mississippi 35 47 48
51 Louisiana 50 50 35

WalletHub evaluated the attractiveness of the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, based on the nine metrics listed below, which were selected based on their significance to various aspects of a working mother's life -- from the home front to the workplace and everywhere in between. States were ranked in each category, and these individual rankings were then used to create overall rankings based on the weights listed beside each metric below. The three overall metric categories -- Child Care, Professional Opportunities and Work-Life Balance -- were used for organizational purposes only, and had no impact on the overall rankings.

Child Care

  • Day Care Quality Rankings: 1
  • Child-Care Costs, Adjusted for the Median Woman's Salary: 1
  • Access to Pediatric Services (Number of Pediatricians per 100,000 residents): 1
  • Public School Quality: 1

Professional Opportunities

  • Gender Pay Gap (Women's Earnings as a Percentage Of Men's): 1
  • Ratio of Female to Male Executives: 1

Work-Life Balance

  • Parental Leave Policy Score: 1
  • Length of the Average Woman's Workday: 0.5
  • Average Commute Time: 0.5

Sources: The information used to construct this report is courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Child Care Aware of America, U.S. News & World Report, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and National Partnership for Women & Families.

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