The Best (and Worst) Cities for Single Mothers

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The Worst Cities for Single Mothers

10. Goldsboro, NC
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent:
79.2 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $746
> Median income for single mother household: $17,646
> Share of 3 and 4 year olds enrolled in school: 35.2%

While the price of a typical two-bedroom apartment in Goldsboro, at $746, is among the cheaper rents of most metro areas, low area incomes make the city one of the less affordable places to live. The typical single mother earns just $17,646 annually, and would have to work 79.2 hours a week to afford such an apartment.

The somewhat limited early education in Goldsboro does little to alleviate the childcare responsibilities of single parenthood. Just 35.2% of Goldsboro three- and four-year olds are enrolled in school, much less than the 47.4% national share.

9. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent:
91.3 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $1,187
> Median income for single mother household: $26,199
> Share of 3 and 4 year olds enrolled in school: 36.8%

As one of just three states with guaranteed paid medical and family leave, California has actually enacted some of the most helpful policies for single parents. Workers on leave in California stand to make 55% of their average weekly wages, with a maximum weekly payment of $1,129. By contrast, in most of the country these benefits are not provided by the state at all.

In certain parts of California, however, poor economic conditions create a less than friendly environment for single mothers. With high rent and low income, the typical single mother in the Riverside metro area would need to work 91.3 hours a week to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment, making the metro one of the least affordable housing markets for single mothers in the country.

8. Elkhart-Goshen, IN
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent:
73.3 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $781
> Median income for single mother household: $18,926
> Share of 3 and 4 year olds enrolled in school: 27.9%

Accessible early education programs liberate single mothers to enter and maintain employment, while providing children with better chances for academic success. In Elkhart-Goshen, however, just 27.9% of three- and four-year olds are enrolled in school, the fourth smallest such share in the country.

The typical single mother household in Elkhart-Goshen makes just $18,926 a year, much less than the national $24,403 a typical single mother household makes across the country. Similarly, 40.3% of all single mother households in the area live in poverty compared to 30.9% nationwide. Single mothers in Elkhart-Goshen earn less than those in most parts of the country and far less than most other residents in the metro area.

7. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent:
77.3 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $729
> Median income for single mother household: $15,827
> Share of 3 and 4 year olds enrolled in school: 38.9%

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission is one of the poorest metro areas in the country, and some of its poorest residents are single mothers. About half of all single mother households live in poverty, and more than half receive food stamps. Much of the poverty in McAllen is concentrated in the suburbs, which further isolates residents from job opportunities and assistance programs. Whereas in other cities public transportation systems help connect the poor with such opportunities, just 0.2% of McAllen workers use public transit to get to work.

The more children in a household, the greater the burden on a single parent. The average household in McAllen led by a single mother has more than four occupants, the eighth largest of any metro area.

6. New Bern, NC
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent:
93.6 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $882
> Median income for single mother household: $15,858
> Share of 3 and 4 year olds enrolled in school: 40.8%

The median annual income for a single mother household with children in New Bern is just $15,858. This income is not only much less than the income of single mother households nationwide, but also about one-third of the metro area’s median household income for all households, the third lowest such proportion. With such low incomes, housing in New Bern is hardly affordable for single parent families. The typical single mother would need to work 93.6 hours a week to rent a market priced two-bedroom apartment, one of the longest workweeks of any metro area.