New research shows more moms are staying at home, choosing to step away form the work force to care for their children.
The number of stay at home mothers is rising for the first time in decades, according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center. The report found that 29 percent of mothers are staying at home (see graph below).
As middle class jobs are vanishing and low wage work growing, a household in which both parents work outside the home is becoming increasingly unaffordable.
LSU Economist Dr. Jim Richardson has an explanation.
"Some have decided to stay at home, and it may not even be a mom, it could be a dad as well, too," Dr. Richardson noted. "Staying at home with the children is more important than the extra income you might be earning, and then giving the cost that it does take."
The study also shows many mothers are simply having trouble finding a job.
"I think people's opinions or judgments may change over time about what's more important, stay at home with their children or have the children go to day care or having the children have a nanny," said Dr. Richardson. "Perhaps in 10 years it will swing back another way; but I think, yes, this is happening right now."
Could these same moms get back in the work force after their kids are grown?
"That will lead us to another problem and that is, have they lost a lot of their so called skills that might be applied in the marketplace? Do they have to go back and be retrained and reworked?" Dr. Richardson asked.
There is another factor too. For a growing number of women, staying home is not a choice.
More mothers say they're staying home because the rising cost of child care is more than they can afford even when they are working.