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States with the most single-parent households

  • States with the most single-parent households

    The U.S. has the highest percentage of single-parent households in the world, with millions of solo guardians struggling to make ends meet on one income while performing all the labor of parenting day in and day out. COVID-19 has hit some households much harder than others, specifically single-parent residences run by women. Choosing between paying bills or rent, facing eviction and food insecurity, and deciding between making money and taking care of a child is the harsh reality of the history-making pandemic and lack of government support for struggling families.  

    To determine the states with the most single-parent households, Stacker used data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey 2018 five-year estimates. All 50 states and Washington D.C. are ranked here according to the share of households that have single parents, classified as either “Male householder, no wife present, children of the householder under 18 years” or “Female householder, no husband present, children of the householder under 18 years.” Census categories currently fail to capture the full scope of potential LGBTQ+ family relationships. Along with each state’s slide, information about the breakdown of single parents, as well as the total number of married couples with kids, is provided.

    Single parents perform an extraordinary amount of labor in normal times, but during the COVID-19 pandemic find themselves juggling a seemingly unmanageable situation. Balancing childcare and schooling with work has become impossible for some, and with no paid leave laws to begin with and little aid from the federal government, both parents and children are struggling.

    Continue reading to find out more about the states with the most single-parent households.

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  • #51. Hawaii

    - Single-parent households: 30,418 (6.7% of all households)
    --- Single mom households: 21,225 (4.6% of all households, #50 highest among states)
    --- Single dad households: 9,193 (2.0% of all households, #43 highest)
    - Married couple with kids households: 89,033 (19.5% of all households, #16 highest)

    A direct hardship relief bill is a temporary haven for Hawaiian residents who live in Oahu, an island struggling in the midst of the COVID-19 financial crisis. Cash cards for $500 offer interim funds for local families' basic food and necessities and a large part of the homeless population. Officials encourage residents to hold on to the cards regardless of the Dec. 27, 2020 expiration date, reporting the need for it in the future.

  • #50. Montana

    - Single-parent households: 29,272 (6.9% of all households)
    --- Single mom households: 18,974 (4.5% of all households, #51 highest among states)
    --- Single dad households: 10,298 (2.4% of all households, #14 highest)
    - Married couple with kids households: 73,723 (17.4% of all households, #35 highest)

    Along with the elderly and disabled, single-parent households see hard times in southern Montana, where a Bozeman shelter reports society’s most vulnerable are in dire need of shelter and food, according to Montana Public Radio. The news source further reports single-mother job loss hit childcare facilities, which have only stayed open due to state grant funding.

  • #49. Utah

    - Single-parent households: 69,748 (7.3% of all households)
    --- Single mom households: 49,279 (5.1% of all households, #46 highest among states)
    --- Single dad households: 20,469 (2.1% of all households, #38 highest)
    - Married couple with kids households: 291,774 (30.5% of all households, #1 highest)

    Even before COVID-19 swept the country, a statewide Utah program addressed the working poor, calling it the Single Parent Project. Nearly 20% of Utah’s children get brought up in the 7.3% single-parent household population, which reportedly makes too much income for state aid, but not enough money for food and shelter. A reported 30 to 60 cents over the required income bracket has left some single parents in immediate financial need.

  • #48. New Hampshire

    - Single-parent households: 38,506 (7.3% of all households)
    --- Single mom households: 26,433 (5.0% of all households, #49 highest among states)
    --- Single dad households: 12,073 (2.3% of all households, #30 highest)
    - Married couple with kids households: 95,819 (18.1% of all households, #26 highest)

    Nearly a decade ago, New Hampshire reported that one-third of homes were single-parent households, which is why statewide assistance includes free school breakfast and lunch and the Special Milk Program. The story of a college student from New Hampshire raised in single-parent household made headlines when she headed off to Oxford, England, as a Rhodes Scholar in 2020.

  • #47. North Dakota

    - Single-parent households: 23,366 (7.4% of all households)
    --- Single mom households: 15,819 (5.0% of all households, #48 highest among states)
    --- Single dad households: 7,547 (2.4% of all households, #17 highest)
    - Married couple with kids households: 58,547 (18.6% of all households, #23 highest)

    Of the Flickertail State 53 counties, Rolette, Sioux, and Benson, show the highest single-parent households population. The high percentage of single-mom households in North Dakota is serviced by various benefits programs, including government grants, loans, housing aid, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). NDkids.org is another resource for one-parent residences with tips and resources for family types, parenting challenges, special needs, and self-care.

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  • #46. Vermont

    - Single-parent households: 19,478 (7.5% of all households)
    --- Single mom households: 13,538 (5.2% of all households, #44 highest among states)
    --- Single dad households: 5,940 (2.3% of all households, #29 highest)
    - Married couple with kids households: 41,754 (16.1% of all households, #46 highest)

    Vermont rates 23% out of all U.S. states for solo-parent residences, according to a 2018 child well-being survey that ranked the Green Mountain State 8th overall for excellent adolescent welfare. Vermont’s higher education system serves solo-guardian students at Champlain College, one of 11 colleges in the country that supports the Single Parents Program.

  • #45. Colorado

    - Single-parent households: 163,338 (7.7% of all households)
    --- Single mom households: 113,586 (5.4% of all households, #43 highest among states)
    --- Single dad households: 49,752 (2.4% of all households, #22 highest)
    - Married couple with kids households: 437,380 (20.7% of all households, #8 highest)

    In 2018, the Colorado Independent reported that 62% of single mothers in Colorado don't have enough income for basic needs, and that number goes up to 74% of single Black single mothers, compared to 53% of white single mothers. While “single dads, who account for just 3% of households in Colorado, have an inadequate income 43% of the time,” earning deficiency is higher for single moms than dads. Often single mothers must choose between buying food or paying rent, or delaying medical care to pay for childcare.

  • #44. Maine

    - Single-parent households: 43,108 (7.7% of all households)
    --- Single mom households: 28,933 (5.2% of all households, #45 highest among states)
    --- Single dad households: 14,175 (2.5% of all households, #11 highest)
    - Married couple with kids households: 85,621 (15.4% of all households, #49 highest)

    The Maine Center for Public Interest reported in 2016 that nearly half of all births are to unwed mothers, which was a 500% increase from 43 years earlier, with percentages rising from 7.1% in 1970 to 41% by 2013. Maine Children’s Alliance Executive Director Claire Berkowitz notes that children from single-parent, low-income households are cognitively less developed than children from “well-resourced” homes.

  • #43. Washington

    - Single-parent households: 217,955 (7.8% of all households)
    --- Single mom households: 152,176 (5.4% of all households, #41 highest among states)
    --- Single dad households: 65,779 (2.3% of all households, #24 highest)
    - Married couple with kids households: 563,726 (20.1% of all households, #12 highest)

    In June of 2020, the Washington State Office of Financial Management reported the highest single-parent families are in Okanogan County at 43.1%, and the lowest are in Wahkiakum County, at 17.1%. The state department notes that in the 58 years between 1960 and 2018, Washington State solo-parent residences rose from 8.2% to 30.1%, and two-parent families decreased by 2.7% between 2000 and 2017.

  • #42. Idaho

    - Single-parent households: 48,256 (7.8% of all households)
    --- Single mom households: 33,460 (5.4% of all households, #42 highest among states)
    --- Single dad households: 14,796 (2.4% of all households, #18 highest)
    - Married couple with kids households: 135,782 (22.0% of all households, #3 highest)

    The Federal Reserve Bank of Idaho’s Economic Data reports Gem County, which has a 12.7% poverty rate, has the highest percentage of single-parent households in Idaho, with a per capita income of $22,661 between 2015–2019.  

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