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by Nicole Weber | May 09, 2014


According to a new study released by, it’s South Dakota, where 79.9 percent of mothers work outside the home according to the latest Census figures. And it’s been that way for the past 30 years. But in 1930 South Dakota had the lowest number of working moms per capita. What accounts for the change? Today, South Dakota actually has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. According to an historian interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, contributing factors to the Mount Rushmore state’s apparently bustling economy include the state’s healthy tourism and service industries, as well as the oil boom in neighboring North Dakota (which has the second highest rate of working moms, 78.9 percent). A largely agricultural economy 100 years ago would have made it less likely for women to work outside of their family-run farms, which explains why South Dakota and other Midwestern states had the lowest rates of working mothers for a large part of the last century. Southern states historically had the highest rates, and then dropped to the bottom of the list in the past 40 years (perhaps due to high unemployment generally).   

The study also found an 800 percent increase in working moms (defined as “women who reported having an occupation to the Census bureau and who loved at the time with at least one child in their household”) over the past 150 years. Today, the rate is 67 percent, compared to 7.5 percent in 1860, and 52 percent in 1980. The highest rates of growth were between 1950 and 1990, when the rate of working moms climbed by double digits every decade.

Whether your mom works outside the home or not, all moms are working women, and I’m sure you will be saluting her on Sunday--Happy Mother’s Day!

Follow me on Twitter @VaultLaw

Read More:
History of the Male-Female Salary Gap: A 95-Year-Old Problem
Nation’s Working Mothers Increase 800% Over Last 150 Years
Where Are America’s Working Mothers?


Filed Under: Workplace Issues
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