Just ahead of Mother's Day, WalletHub looked at how US states treat working mothers. Based on the study, if you split the country in two by drawing a horizontal line across the contiguous 48 states, it just so happens that the states above the line are more likely to provide working mothers with more opportunities to successfully juggle work and family than the states below the line.
Hover your cursor over the map to see the ranking number each state received, and over the individual five groups to see which states are similar to others (also listed below). The top three states across all of the studies' criteria are Vermont, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Mississippi, South Carolina, and Louisiana are the bottom three.
There are a number of reasons why states closer to Canada might offer more opportunities for American employees. For example, three of the five largest cities in the country are in the North; states with larger populations tend to also have a higher ratio of women to men. Second, labor unions could come into play, most of which started in the Northeast. This 2014 map of union membership rates by state echoes the North-South divide, with Northern states having a higher percentage of union memberships. In addition, there are some states that are less friendly based on other metrics, like cultures that protect gender discrimination in the workplace, or the availability of schools or nearby health services.
The most interesting finding? We'll call it the Oregon Anomaly. Not only is Oregon the top-ranked state for work-life balance, but it just so happens that Americans are moving there in higher rates than any other state, too.
Here's the breakdown of the five groups by states.
Oregon leads the top states for work-life balance:
Oregon joins Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin, Maine, Connecticut, Minnesota, Utah, and Idaho.
Iowa leads the second quintile:
Iowa joins Washington, Ohio, North Dakota, California, Kansas, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Indiana.
Michigan leads the third quintile:
Michigan joins Massachusetts, South Dakota, Colorado, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois, and Alaska.
New Hampshire leads the fourth quintile:
New Hampshire joins Louisiana, Hawaii, Missouri, Arkansas, South Carolina, New York, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.
Mississippi leads the bottom quintile:
Joining Mississippi is Alabama, Delaware, Florida, the District of Columbia, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Virginia, and Maryland.
Measuring work-life balance isn't cut and dry; this study alone includes 12 key metrics in three categories and doesn't specify data around domestic work, a traditionally understudied area of women's work. We know less about working fathers, but they're increasingly struggling with work-life balance, too. As Matt Yglesias points out, our country has plenty of room to improve the parental leave situation. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rosa DeLauro have a bill that funds paid parental leave through tax dollars and public spending, much like Social Security.
Evaluating time at work can be complicated, too. If you respond to a work-related email at 11 pm, does that count as time at work? It should, but many people won't include it in that category. Also, parents who work from home often rely on flextime, which makes it hard to determine the average workday.
Even measuring commute time, as Joseph Stromberg explains, has changed significantly in the past few decades. We've seen a steady shift from the typical 9-to-5 office job to a slew of flexible hours, part-time jobs, or remote positions that alter the average commute.