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Single Parents In Massachusetts Struggling, Study Finds

BOSTON — An estimated three in four families led by a single parent in Massachusetts do not earn enough money to make ends meet, according to a recent study.

The report, conducted by the Boston-based Crittenton Women’s Union, finds a single parent would need to earn $65,880 a year to pay for food, housing, child care, health care and other basic needs for one school-aged child and another in preschool.

Crittenton’s president and CEO, Elisabeth Babcock, joined WBUR’s Morning Edition for more on the study.

Interview Highlights:

On Why Single Parents Are Struggling

I think what’s really driving it is the shift over to knowledge-based jobs, jobs that require an education beyond high school. And although Massachusetts has 53 percent of the population with a college degree — which is among the highest in the United States — we also have among the highest requirement for education among in the jobs that we have here. We’re at the forefront of the knowledge-based economy.

Wages are not only stagnate, but they’ve actually eroded at the bottom of the earnings scale. So what we’re finding is that the young families or families in low wage paying jobs are on a treadmill where they’re running faster and faster and they’re just not able to keep up.

The Biggest Cost For Families 

Well the biggest cost to young families, believe it or not, is childcare — 31 percent of the family’s income goes to childcare. And then housing, of course, and taxes. Those are among the fastest growing costs for families in Massachusetts, particularly childcare.

On What Parents Can Do

People who are low income are not only are dealing with a lack of financial resources but they also have a lack of time. They’re working extra jobs and trying to take care of themselves and their families and so every investment they make, both in their time and in their money, has to be made extremely carefully. They can’t go into a college program and have the time to change their major 15 times. So they need information, good information and supports to get the education and training, certificate training, that will head them toward the jobs that will be able to support their families.

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