40% of single mothers living in poverty in 2015

The fact is that single parent households are struggling much more than others. As of 2015, an astounding 40% of those homes run by the mom (and that have no father) are living in poverty. They are also heavy users of public benefits, including TANF welfare, they depend on food pantries, and also have long stretches of being unemployed.

There has been additional attention recently brought to this crisis. Sheryl Sandberg, the number two executive at one of the world’s largest companies (Facebook), has posted how difficult it is for a one parent household to not only work so they can pay the bills, but to care for their children. This challenge is even greater for mothers.


When reviewing data from 2015, the other statistics for single moms are just as alarming. The rates of poverty and low income in this demographic is astonishing. Not only are 40% living in poverty, but about 33% of them are food insecure. This means that they can barely keep groceries in their home, and are on the brink of hunger as their income does not support enough food for them and their kids. So their kids are not getting what they need to live a healthy lifestyle.

They are also turning to their schools for help. About 60% of the children from single parent households are receiving low cost (or free) lunches or breakfasts as of calendar year 2015. This poses additional challenges on them during the summer or holidays when their kids are not in school. This can often lead to additional strain on charity run pantries during those months, as the demand increases.

The stats around employment across the board are scary. The average household income is $26,000 per year. Compare that to a home with two wage earners, and that average income is above $80,000 per year. The income disparity is tremendous.

As Sheryl Sandberg pointed out (as well as many others before her) the employment issue can’t be easily solved. This single moms are both trying to care for their children on their own, and be the primary wage earner. This is very difficult to do to say the least, if not impossible. It can be even more challenging for minorities, such as blacks, who already have higher unemployment levels.

The cost of child care is roughly around 35 to 40% of their entire income. So how can a single mom possibly get ahead when they need to pay those excessive costs? Not only that, but since they are females, they are only estimated by be receiving 65 to 70 cents on the dollar when it comes to their wages versus male counterparts. Latinos and black females earn even less money.


Housing is a major barrier. Studies show that 30 percent of single moms spend almost one half of their income towards their rent and utilities. This is not sustainable over the long term. This takes away from the other needs of their children, but luckily there are rental assistance programs for single mothers that they can try. But most of the housing programs are for emergencies only, and are not long term solutions.

Right now, in order to make it by day to day, many single moms are turning to public aid. About 45% are on SNAP food stamps. About 1 in 10 are enrolled in TANF welfare (though more may be qualified). When it comes to housing, roughly one third receive some type of government benefits as well. Luckily there are dozens of other assistance programs that cater towards their needs, but the funding available in 2015 is very limited. Find financial aid for single moms.

However all of these costs of entitlement services add up. Many taxpayers, and government officials, are calling for cutbacks in the amount of money spent on entitlement programs. In fact, food stamps are being scaled back in 2015 as well as 2016. It is just a matter of time before others are cut back. This will put additional pressure on single moms that are trying to get by.

So there are no easy answers, other than focusing on lifestyle as well as budgeting. It is imperative to try to keep a family together, as having two solid incomes makes a huge difference when it comes to paying the bills each month.

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