Low wages disproportionately affect single parent households. Their family’s are solely reliant on one person’s income to sustain the entire household. A study found that 33% of single mothers and 7% of single fathers were at economic crisis levels defined as, at or below poverty status.With about 23% of children living in single parent households,there needs to be an income intervention starting with the minimum wage. There is an urgent need for livable wages of at least $15 an hour indexed with inflation to accomplish greater socioeconomic mobility for single parent households.
Financial interventions must start with minimum wages to support single parent households as the low wages affect the whole family and as expenses grow, their incomes often remain the same. The federal minimum wage has been stagnant at $7.25 for the past twelve years.This equates to only $15,080 per year- a wage that would be difficult to sustain a family even to supply basic physiological necessities such as food and housing. The history of the minimum wage did not always yield such low economic power. In fact, if the minimum wage kept up with inflation from its inception, it would be over $24/hour which is $49,920 per year.Still, it remains low depreciating in value as each year passes with no movement making it harder on singular income households.
Though states have increased their minimum wages this is not a nation-wide trend. Georgia is especially known for this discrepancy with a minimum wage below the federal level at $5.15; sadly, this is better than states that have no minimum.Although the Fair Labor Standards Act protects most workers from being paid below the federal level, thousands of workers are not protected by this law. To be protected a company must earn more than $500,000 per year and engage in interstate commerce which leaves thousands vulnerable.In addition to the low wages for the thousands of laborers who are unprotected, low minimum wages drive down wages for millions in the state affecting single parent households and robbing them of competitive wages to support their families.
Elected officials and concerned citizens often call for government intervention to support families earning low wages through social safety net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP also known as Food Stamps), Women, Infants and Children (Women Infants and Children) and Medicaid. While, these interventions are helpful, the social safety net is quite weak. Most social services within the safety net use poverty guidelines to determine eligibility which are abysmally low at $12,880 for one person households. At this rate, people earning even slightly above the minimum wage can quickly disqualify for social programs. Though single parents in these circumstances would not be eligible for social programs, they still would not earn enough for safe housing and other necessities. In perspective, the poverty level is lower than the average used car used to get to minimum wage jobs; the unaccounted costs of low wage hourly work.
Included in the financial support needed from higher minimum wages is support for education. 47% of kids from single parent households attend college compared to 67% of children with both parents. The college attendance largely relates to the parent’s ability to prepare the child for school and the student’s ability to navigate to college. Relatedly, is the student’s ability to graduate. 19-31% of students in single parent households graduate (range based on the type of single parent household) compared to the 43% graduation rate for students in two family households.These graduation rates are largely due to the ability to finance college and the competing priorities for students to help out back at home. The average single mom earns $45,000 per year.Comparatively, the average cost of college is $35,720 per student per year in the United States. The cost shoots to $58,949 for private school.Considering that a single mom’s income is usually equivalent to the household income (unless teenage wages or child support are added), the cost of college would usurp almost all of the income and leave the parent in debt for a private school even after using 100% of their earnings for the year. This cost becomes the cost of opportunity for children in single parent households.
The effect of low wages is closely correlated with access to food. Single parents are more likely to live in food deserts and fast-food swamps (a location that is outside of a one-mile radius of a source of produce and other healthy food options but surrounded by fast food restaurants).Given the close proximity of many adults and teens from single-parent homes to these restaurants it is a popular job. However, fast food restaurants notoriously pay low wages. With only one adult earner, teenagers from low-income households are responsible for contributing to the bills in their household. Their contribution is not supplemental but a mandatory component of the household income making low wages- even as a teenager, harmful to the family total income.
Low wages also restrict access to housing. On average, people earning the federal minimum wage, would have to work 132 hours per week to afford rent in a modest two-bedroom apartment.In context, there are only 168 hours in a week meaning that outside of work, single parents would barely have time to sleep never mind spend time with their kids or further their education. Housing is one of the most basic necessities allowing parents and kids alike a safe place to study, sleep and spend time together. Without adequate wages they are robbed of this security.
To support single parents, wages must be raised both for the prosperity of the parent and the improvements of access to education, food, housing and overall socioeconomic mobility of the family. Support legislation that raises the minimum wage both at the federal and state level to improve outcomes for single parents and their families today!
Census Bureau. (2021, March 25) National Single Parent Day. Census.gov. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/stories/single-parent-day.html
Center for Economic Policy and Research. (2020, July 21). This is What Minimum Wage Would be if it Kept Pace with Inflation. CEPR. https://www.cepr.net/this-is-what-minimum- wage-would-be-if-it-kept-pace-with-productivity/
Department of Labor. (2016, September). Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act- Who is Covered. DOL. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/compliance- assistance/handy-reference-guide-flsa#2
Department of Labor. (2021). History of Changes to the Minimum Wage Law. DOL. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/minimum-wage/history
Department of Labor. (2021, May 01) State Minimum Wage Laws. Department of Labor. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/minimum-wage/state
Hanson, M. (2019, June 6). Average Cost of College and Tuition. Education Data. https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of- college
Lu, Y., Walker, R., Richard, P. & Younis, M. (2019, December 24). Inequalities in Poverty and Income between Single Mothers and Fathers. Int J Environ Res Public Health17(1): 135. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6982282/
National Low Income Housing Coalition. (2020). Out of Reach 2020. National Low Income Housing Coalition. https://reports.nlihc.org/sites/default/files/oor/OOR_2020_Mini- Book.pdf
New York Law School. (2012, June).Unshared Bounty: How Structural Racism Contributes to the Creation and Persistence of Food Deserts. New York Law School. https://digitalcommons.nyls.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=racial_justic e_project
United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). 2021 Poverty Guidelines. HHS.https://aspe.hhs.gov/2021-poverty-guidelines
Statista. (2020, May 14). Used Vehicle Average Selling Price in the United States from 2016- 2019.Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/274928/used-vehicle-average-selling- price-in-the-united-states/
Zill, N. (2020, May 25) For Getting Kids Through College, Single-Parent Families Are Not All the Same. Institute for Family Studies. https://ifstudies.org/blog/for-getting-kids-through- college-single-parent-families-are-not-all-the-same
 Lu, Y., Walker, R., Richard, P. & Younis, M. (2019, December 24). Inequalities in Poverty and Income between Single Mothers and Fathers. Int J Environ Res Public Health17(1): 135. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6982282/
 Census Bureau. (2021, March 25) National Single Parent Day. Census.gov. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/stories/single-parent-day.html
 Department of Labor. (2021). History of Changes to the Minimum Wage Law. DOL. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/minimum-wage/history
 Center for Economic Policy and Research. (2020, July 21). This is What Minimum Wage Would be if it Kept Pace with Inflation. CEPR. https://www.cepr.net/this-is-what-minimum-wage-would-be-if-it-kept-pace-with-productivity/
 Department of Labor. (2021, May 01) State Minimum Wage Laws. Department of Labor. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/minimum-wage/state
 Department of Labor. (2016, September). Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act- Who is Covered. DOL. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/compliance-assistance/handy-reference-guide-flsa#2
 United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). 2021 Poverty Guidelines. HHS.https://aspe.hhs.gov/2021-poverty-guidelines.
 Statista. (2020, May 14). Used Vehicle Average Selling Price in the United States from 2016-2019.Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/274928/used-vehicle-average-selling-price-in-the-united-states/
 Zill, N. (2020, May 25) For Getting Kids Through College, Single-Parent Families Are Not All the Same. Institute for Family Studies.
 Census Bureau. (2021, March 25) National Single Parent Day. Census.gov. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/stories/single-parent-day.html
 Hanson, M. (2019, June 6). Average Cost of College and Tuition. Education Data. https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-college
 New York Law School. (2012, June). Unshared Bounty: How Structural Racism Contributes to the Creation and Persistence of Food Deserts. NYLS. https://digitalcommons.nyls.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=racial_justice_project
 National Low Income Housing Coalition. (2020). Out of Reach 2020. National Low Income Housing Coalition. https://reports.nlihc.org/sites/default/files/oor/OOR_2020_Mini-Book.pdf
Single-parent families are facing unique challenges in today's economy. With the added stress of being the sole financial provider for their household, many single parents are struggling to make ends meet.
According to the United States Census Bureau, there are nearly 13 million single-parent families in the country, with single mothers comprising the majority. These families are more likely to live in poverty, with single mothers experiencing a poverty rate nearly three times higher than married couples.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these economic challenges for single-parent families. Many have lost jobs or experienced reduced hours, making it harder to afford necessities like housing, food, and healthcare.
The impact of the pandemic has also been felt in the education system, with many children being forced to learn remotely or attend school in person with limited resources. This can create additional stress for single parents, who may have to juggle work and childcare responsibilities while also trying to support their child's education.
Despite these challenges, there are resources available to help single-parent families. Many states offer programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to provide financial assistance for basic needs.
There are also organizations specifically geared toward supporting single-parent families, such as The Swinney Foundation, which provides scholarships and other resources for single parents.
It's important for society to recognize the struggles faced by single-parent families and work to provide support and resources to help them thrive. Whether through policy changes or supporting organizations that provide assistance, we can all play a role in improving the lives of single-parent families in today's economy.
The Child Tax Credit is a critical resource for families struggling to make ends meet, especially during times of economic uncertainty. While the pandemic has exacerbated financial struggles for many families, single-parent households have been disproportionately affected. That's why it's so important for Congress to re-establish the Child Tax Credit monthly payments that were provided during the pandemic.
The Child Tax Credit provides much-needed financial support to families with children, allowing them to cover basic expenses like housing, food, and child care. For single-parent households, this support can be a lifeline, helping them to provide for their children and keep a roof over their heads.
However, the pandemic has thrown many families into economic uncertainty, with job losses, reduced hours, and other financial challenges. The Child Tax Credit monthly payments provided a critical source of support during this time, helping families to meet their basic needs and stay afloat.
Now that the pandemic is (hopefully) coming to an end, it's more important than ever for Congress to re-establish these monthly payments and make them a permanent part of the Child Tax Credit program. Single-parent households have already suffered so much during the pandemic, and we can't let them continue to struggle without the support they need.
It's time for Congress to act and ensure that single-parent households have the financial support they need to provide for their children and build a better future. Let's make the Child Tax Credit monthly payments a permanent part of our social safety net, and show our support for the families who need it most.
Contact your Representative and Senator and ask them to support legislation to re-establish the monthly child tax credit payments and to make it permanent.
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