More Utah moms are working after having babies
More moms in Utah are going to work less than a year after giving birth, new census data show.
- But Utah remains slower to send moms back to work than the rest of the country.
By the numbers: In 2022, about 56% of Utah women who gave birth within the previous year were in the labor force, a lower percentage than any state except Alaska, according to census data released last month.
- That's an increase of about 3% from 2010 — about half the rate of increase nationally.
Zoom out: By contrast, 67% of U.S. women who gave birth were working within the year in 2022, up from just under 62% in 2010.
- But eight states saw the percentage of working new moms decline over the same 12-year period — Utah wasn't one of them.
- Members have described a stigma against women who pursue careers.
- Having one stay-at-home parent while the other works full time is the most-desired family arrangement, according to statewide polling in 2022; two parents working full time was the least desired.
The intrigue: It's unclear how much of the increase may be linked to the state becoming less Mormon over the same timeframe, or whether Latter-day Saint mothers are more likely to work while parenting young children.
Zoom in: Workforce participation rates in the Provo-Orem metro area — Utah and Juab Counties — could provide a clue.
- The metro area is home to one of the nation's largest concentrations of Latter-day Saints.
- The share of mothers working there less than 12 months after giving birth rose 8.7% since 2010, more than the 5.9% drop in the Mormon population share during roughly the same timeframe.
- Meanwhile, work rates for new moms held within a percentage point over the same 12 years in the Salt Lake and Ogden metros — populations that were significantly less Mormon than Provo-Orem is now.
Of note: The census figures don't differentiate between part-time and full-time work.
- Part-time jobs are extremely common among Utah women.
Context: Remote and flexible work is making it easier for new moms to juggle both parenting and careers, Axios' Emily Peck has reported.
Yes, but: Pandemic-era federal funding for child care centers is drying up.
- 70,000 child care centers, looking after 3.2 million children, may close after the funding runs out, according to an estimate from The Century Foundation.
What we're watching: Whether the scarcity and skyrocketing cost of child care ultimately neutralizes Utah's unique religious factors.
- If that expense wipes out a parent's earnings, it's often mothers who wind up staying home because they're likely making less.
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