By Christina Sturgis
Wallet Hub recently issued a report stating Oregon is the best state for working mothers based on childcare, professional opportunities for women and work-life balance. Kentucky came in 18th overall in a list of 51 states (Washington, D.C., was counted as a state) and Louisiana came in dead last.
Wallet Hub took its data from three federal sources: the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. More input was added from Childcare Aware of America, the National Partnership for Women and Families and U.S. News and World Report.
Kentucky received the rank of 18th by combining a rank of 19 on childcare availability and quality, a rank of 28 for professional opportunities for women and a rank of 17 for helping women maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Yet only two years ago, Forbes pronounced Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville, one of the 10 best cities in the nation for working mothers. Forbes noted the average woman’s annual earnings, $29,053, in relation to the cost of childcare, $6,500. In the top-ranked city, Columbus, Ohio, the average woman earned more, $32.086. The childcare cost was more as well, $7,750.
The burden for working families is heavier in economically-depressed regions. In Newark, N.J., where the average per capita income is $17,161, the cost of childcare takes a big bite out of the paycheck. Programs for Parents estimates childcare in the Newark area costs $8,956 per year for an infant and about $7,700 for an older child. Approximately 64 percent of Newark residents rent their homes and 28 percent of income is spent on rent, according to HotPads. Combined with childcare costs, that leaves little left over for other living costs.
In June, Gov. Steve Beshear announced a plan to restore subsidies for childcare for working families, set to take effect later this summer.
Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, applauded the plan, saying it “means parents can keep their jobs and ensure quality care for their children.”