To determine the best and worst cities for single mothers, 24/7 Wall St. compiled an index of six measures for each U.S. metro area: the median income for a single mother household with children under 18 years old, the share of single mother households in poverty, the average income deficit for single mother households below the poverty line, the share of three- and four-year olds enrolled in school, the share of workers over 16 years old using public transportation to commute, and the number of hours a week a typical single mother would need to work to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent (FMR). FMR is the 40th percentile of gross rents for typical, non-substandard rental units in a given metropolitan statistical area (MSA), and is determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The measures were normalized and organized in four categories — income, early education, public transportation, and housing affordability. The number of hours a week a typical single mother would need to work to afford a two-bedroom apartment at FMR was given double weight, public transit use was given quarter weight, and income, poverty, and average income deficit were averaged and treated as one standard measure.
MSAs for which the margin of error on single mother households at 90% confidence was 10% or greater than the point estimate were excluded. All data, other than the FMR, came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and are five-year estimates for 2010 to 2014.