NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Memo To Personnel: Hire Mothers

September 19, 2000

For many years, employers tended to think twice about hiring mothers of preschoolers or elementary-school age children. They were concerned that the children's sicknesses or minor emergencies would interfere with the mothers' work schedules or distract them.

But that is fast changing as employers are finding greater flexibility generates greater loyalty to companies among this group. The result is that mothers have become hot recruiting prospects -- particularly among owners of small businesses. But the catch is that in this era of record low unemployment, they have become almost as scarce as any other category of employee.

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of working mothers with children under three years of age rose 9.5 percent to 5.3 million between 1990 and 1999 -- and during the 1980s the proportion rose 47 percent.
  • Today, nearly two-thirds of all U.S. mothers with children age three or less are working -- compared with only about half in 1990 and just 42 percent in 1980.
  • The unemployment rate among working moms -- as among other workers -- is also at a 30-year low: about 6 percent, compared with double digits in the early '90s.
  • Employers are offering more flexible work schedules -- with 28 percent of all workers having flexible schedules in 1997, compared with 15 percent in 1991.

Children aside, about 25 percent of workers today provide some degree of care for elderly parents. And the care-giver is just as likely to be a man as a woman. Experts say that the workplace flexibility mothers have pioneered will increasingly benefit those caring for the elderly -- and that will assume greater importance as the population ages.

Source: Robert Johnson, "Employers Now Vie to Hire Moms With Young Children," Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2000.


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