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Single Parents in the United States

Single Parents have grown so common in the United States today that roughly 11 million individuals fall into this category. 80% of such are single mothers and nearly a third live in poverty. 

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Around half (50.4%) of single mothers have never married, almost a third (29.5%) are divorced, and 20.2% are either separated or widowed. Half have one child, 30% have two. About two thirds are White, one third Black.


At any one time, about two thirds of single mothers are working outside the home, a slightly greater share than that of married mothers who are also working outside the home.

However, only half were employed full-time all year long, 29% were jobless the entire year. Among those who were laid off or looking for work, less than a quarter (22.4%) received unemployment benefits.


If a single mother is able to work, her earning power still lags significantly compared with men’s, about 82¢ to a $1 for the same job — leaving a wage gap of 18¢ on the dollar. 

Single mothers earn income that place them well below married mothers in the income ladder. The gap between the two groups is significantly large.

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Single mothers are much more likely to be poor than married couples. The poverty rate for single-mother families in 2019 was 31%, nearly five times more than the rate (5%) for married-couple families.

Families headed by women of color fared even worse. Nearly two in five (35%) of Black female-headed families lived in poverty, Hispanic (34%), White (26%), and Asian (22%).

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