Special Report

Toughest Cities to Be a Single Mom

Toughest Cities to Be a Single Mom

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10. Grand Junction, CO
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent: 92.0 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $842
> Median income for single mother household: $16,889
> Share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school: 39.5%

In the Grand Junction metro area, just 71.2% of single mothers are in the labor force, the seventh smallest share of any metro area. The typical single mother household earns just $16,889 a year, approximately $9,300 less than the median income for single mothers nationwide and the fourth least of any U.S. metro area.

While Grand Junction is one of the less expensive real estate markets in the country, the average single mother would still need to work 92.0 hours every week to afford the average two-bedroom apartment, assuming rent amounts to no more than 30% of income, one of the longest workweeks of any city.

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9. Bakersfield, CA
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent: 84.3 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $926
> Median income for single mother household: $20,041
> Share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school: 34.4%

While California has the highest minimum wage in the country and is one of only a handful of states with guaranteed paid family leave, wages are low in many parts of the state and real estate unaffordable. In Bakersfield, a single mother earning the average wage would have to work 84.3 hours a week to afford the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment and still have income left over for necessities, one of the longer workweeks of any metro area.

Bakersfield also has one of the worst job markets in the country. Just 72.1% of single mothers are in the labor force, nearly the lowest participation rate of any city. Some 8.0% of the labor force is unemployed, more than double the 3.7% national unemployment rate.

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8. Hanford-Corcoran, CA
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent: 87.6 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $987
> Median income for single mother household: $22,032
> Share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school: 32.4%

Some 8.0% of the labor force in the Hanford-Corcoran metro area is unemployed, one of the lowest unemployment rates of any metro area. Just 76.7% of single mothers are in the labor force, far less than the 82.4% national participation rate.

One factor that may contribute to low labor force participation among single mothers in Hanford is the low preschool enrollment. Access to high-quality pre-K programs can not only helps set up students for future educational success, but also can help single mothers better balance work and child care responsibilities. Just 32.4% of 3- and 4-year-olds in Hanford are enrolled in school, one of the smallest shares of any metro area nationwide.

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7. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent: 103.8 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $932
> Median income for single mother household: $20,086
> Share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school: 42.5%

In the Myrtle Beach metro area, it is nearly impossible for the typical single mother to afford an apartment without spending more than the recommended 30% of their income on rent. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Myrtle Beach rents is $932, and the typical single mother household earns just $20,086 a year — about $6,000 less than the median for single mothers nationwide. All things being equal, a single mother in Myrtle Beach would have to work 103.8 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

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6. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
> Hrs./week for typical single mother to afford rent: 81.9 hours
> Market rent for two-bedroom apt.: $757
> Median income for single mother household: $17,162
> Share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in school: 37.5%

While the McAllen metro area has some of the least expensive real estate in the country, a large share of single mothers still struggle to afford housing. The typical single mother household in McAllen earns just $17,162 a year, approximately $9,000 less than the median income among all single mother households nationwide and $13,000 less than what would be needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment while not spending more than 30% of one’s income. A single mother earning the average wage in McAllen would have to work 81.9 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment, one of the longer workweeks of any metro area.