A Portrait of America's Mothers From Census, Financial Data

WASHINGTON - This Sunday, May 9, Americans will celebrate an 85-year-old tradition, Mother's Day. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May a national holiday.

Much has changed for American mothers since 1914, when most did not work outside the home and none could vote. Herewith, some facts about American mothers today:

There are 35 million mothers in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44 raising more than 72 million children. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1995)

Mothers in Idaho tend to have more children than their counterparts in other states. For every 1000 women age 15-44 in Idaho, there are more than 1500 children, a birth rate of 1.5. Women in Massachusetts, the state with the lowest birth rate, average .9 children each. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1995)

According to a study by Edelman Financial Services of Fairfax, Virginia, the various jobs American mothers juggle are worth more than $500,000 a year. To derive that figure, Edelman added the average salaries for the 17 different occupations it believes the average mother performs annually.

Included on its list:

  • Executive Chef: $40,000
  • Financial Manager: $39,000
  • Registered Nurse: $35,000
  • Housekeeper: $9,000
  • Child Care Provider: $13,000
  • Psychologist: $29,000
  • Bus Driver $32,400

"Since a mother wears many hats and is on duty 24-hours-a-day, we decided that a typical mother deserves a full-time salary for all 17 key occupational positions," said Ric Edelman. The grand total: $508,700 per year.

If raising children is a full-time job as Edelman says, consider this: Most mothers also work outside the home. About 63 percent of women with children under six and 78% of women with children six-to-17 have jobs. (AFL-CIO)

Although the gap between men's and women's wages is narrowing, women earn $.74 for every $1.00 earned by men. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1996)

In South Dakota and Nebraska, about 71 percent of mothers with young children are in the workforce, more than in the other 48 states. In West Virginia, mothers with children under six are least likely to work. About 48 percent there juggle kids and jobs. (Children's Defense Fund, 1998)

Women are most likely to say their biggest problem is combining family and work. (Center for Policy Alternatives, 1996)

Mothers are most likely to leave their children with relatives while they are working. Fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles serve as child care providers for 43 percent of the nation's preschoolers whose mothers work. Another 29 percent of those preschoolers attend a day-care center or nursery school. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1994)

Nearly five million school-aged children are latch-key kids. (Child Care Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1997)

Almost 10 million mothers are raising their children alone. Single mothers head more than 25 percent of American households. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1998)

In Mississippi, new mothers are least likely to be married. About 45 percent of births there in 1996 were to unmarried women. New mothers in Utah are most likely to be wed. Only 16 percent of births there were to unmarried women. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1996)

More than one out of every 10 new mothers is a teenager. Mississippi counts the highest rate of births to teenagers, about 21 percent. New Hampshire and Massachusetts have the least, about 7 percent. (U.S. Census Bureau, 1996)

More and more women are also caring for the elderly. Nearly one in four families cared for an elderly friend or relative. Women provide the bulk of the informal care received by the nation's 7.1 million disabled elderly adults who live at home. (AFL-CIO, 1996 and Urban Institute, 1996)