- A new study from the SSR research team has revealed which states are the best for parents planning to work while raising their children – and Connecticut comes out on top
- Each state was ranked based on childcare affordability, public school rankings, maternity leave pay, maternity leave length, and the cost of living
- Connecticut performed best thanks to its policy of 12 weeks of paid maternity leave and high public school ranking, while New Mexico came out as the worst state
- An expert discusses the common considerations when deciding where to raise children and stresses the importance of a strong community
The SSR research team has crunched the numbers to reveal which states are the most accommodating for working parents, and which need to improve their provisions.
We assigned each state a score out of 60 based on public school rankings, the duration of available maternity leave, the current cost of living, the percentage of income needed to pay for childcare, and maternity leave pay.
We gathered data from the World Population Review (state income, paid maternity leave, public school rankings), County Health Rankings (childcare costs), and the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (cost of living index scores).
And the Winners Are…
It turns out that the best state for working parents is Connecticut, with a score of 52.6 out of 60.
The state offers incredibly generous maternity leave, with mothers able to take 12 weeks of paid leave, receiving 95% of their income during this time.
Connecticut is also the state with the third highest-rated public schools, and parenthood is well-priced. The average parent must only dedicate 25% of their annual income to cover childcare expenses.
The national average for the cost of childcare currently runs at 27% of the average household income.
Maryland came second with a score of 49.9. The state also offers 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. Maryland’s parents also spend slightly less on childcare than their Connecticut-based peers. Childcare expenses equate to 22% of their income – which is nearly a fifth (19%) below the national average.
Colorado is in third place with a score of 49.3. The state has the country's eighth-best public schools and offers 12 weeks of paid maternity leave.
New Jersey was named the fourth best state for working parents with a score of 49.1, largely thanks to its high yearly salary of $78.7k. This salary means that, although the cost of living is high, on average, parents only need to dedicate 31% of their income to childcare expenses. It’s still less than some other states, including its neighbor, New York.
Rounding the top five states off is Washington with a score of 49. The state sees 27% of a parent’s income spent on childcare, which aligns with the national average. The state also benefits from some of the best public schools, ranking 13th in the country.
The Top Five States for Working Parents Ranked
The States Where Working Parents Struggle Most
The state we found to be the worst for working parents is New Mexico, with a score of 26.4 out of 60 - 19% lower than the average score of 32.8.
The state’s parents pay 21% more than the national average for childcare. The slice of household income needed to raise little ones stands at 33%, making it one of the more expensive regions for working families with young children.
In fact, the state is one of the least affordable for childcare. Given the average annual salary of $51.5k, New Mexico is also 17% below the national average of $62.7k gross household income.
The second worst U.S. state for working parents is Montana. Its lack of paid maternity leave and high cost of living sets its score at 26.5. The state following in third place is Michigan, with a score of 26.8.
Michigan, like the others on the worst states list, offers no paid maternity leave and is also ranked 29th for public schools. Not only that, but the state has one of the highest rates of income spent on childcare at 41%.
The fourth state is West Virginia, which has the second lowest average yearly income at $49.1k, landing a score of 26.9. Like Michigan, West Virginia has above-average childcare costs, with parents spending 36% of their income.
Lastly, the fifth least suitable state for parents is North Carolina, scoring 27.1 out of 60. North Carolina ranks 43rd in the public school rankings and, on average, requires parents to spend 32% of their annual income on childcare expenses.
The Bottom Five States for Working Parents Ranked
While some prospective parents aren’t able to relocate to a better state to start their family, others will want to move to an area that offers better provisions and prospects for them and their children.
Navigating the challenges of being a working parent requires a well-thought-through approach to balance the juggling act of raising a family while working.
Parents often have last-minute leave requests due to unforeseen circumstances such as lack of childcare, family emergencies, or illness. Finding an employer that can accommodate this flexibility from an HR perspective is key for retaining staff and maintaining employee satisfaction.
Companies that prioritize a good work-life balance and offer family-friendly policies can play a crucial role in fostering an environment where your family can thrive, contributing to both a happy work life and a happy home life.