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For Immediate Release


KL Conner,

Press Release

Economic Recovery Leaves Behind Working-Class Women and Mothers


Women’s labor force participation rates are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, but a new report released today by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) shows that working-class women and mothers are still lagging behind.

To better understand why this group of women are lagging, Financial Struggles of Working-Class Women Reveal Potential for More Robust Family-Friendly Policy Response, by CEPR economist Julie Cai and researcher Joe Peck examine poverty, unstable working hours, and a lack of financial savings, particularly among low-wage, less-educated women and mothers.

Some key findings in the report are:

  • Nationwide, about 15 percent of noncollege-educated mothers live in households with disposable incomes below the poverty line, triple the rate of higher-educated mothers. 
  • Poverty rates for women are especially higher than men when they just enter work. There is a striking gender disparity in poverty among young adults, between 18 to 34.
  • In the workplace, work-hour volatility reached its highest level for service sector unmarried mothers in 2020. Although in 2021, women in the service sector saw a substantial drop in the amount of volatility, it did not fully return to the pre-pandemic level.
  • In 2020, over half of working-class single mothers reported they needed to take loans or borrow money for a $400 emergency expense. 

Federal, state, and local policies can help close the poverty gap, stabilize working hours, and improve the financial health of working-class women and mothers. Long overdue family-friendly policies such as affordable childcare programs and paid leave would address increased poverty rates for women during childbearing years. 

Working-class women and mothers suffer disproportionately from the financial insecurity caused by unstable work hours. A child benefit paid out on a monthly basis smooth-out bumpy family economics of low-income or working-class mothers. Creating and enforcing fair work-hour protections promotes financial stability for the working class, particularly parents.


The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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