Things aren’t peachy for working moms in Georgia, ranking finds

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Are you a working mom struggling to find a work-life balance? The reason could be because you live in the country’s worst state for such a thing.

“Women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, and nearly 66% of moms with children under age 18 were working in 2020,” financial website WalletHub wrote in the intro for its 2021 “Best & Worst States for Working Moms.”

For its annual ranking, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: child care, professional opportunities and work-life balance. It then ranked those dimensions using 17 relevant metrics, each graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for working moms.

Georgia improved overall from last year, rising from No. 42 in 2020 to No. 39, with a score of 38.72, in 2021. The Peach State also improved in the first two dimensions, rising from 38 to 32 in health care and 26 to 17 in professional opportunities.

However, when it comes to working moms finding a work-life balance, Georgia is still in last place — for the fourth year in a row.

What can companies do to help working parents balance home and work life?

“Two (things) that come to mind are more generous paid family leave policies and support for affordable childcare,” said Geoffrey L. Brown, associate professor of human development and family science in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia. “Both can take many different forms, but in general investments in family leave and childcare programs seem to be good investments for companies. Employees are usually happier, more productive, and less likely to switch jobs. Further, the benefits to workplace morale and stability seem to extend even to employees who do not have children. Since the pandemic, it has also become clear that greater flexibility in workplace expectations (when, where and how employees complete their work) is a necessity for many families, especially for parents of children who are attending school remotely. I hope that some of the flexibility that some companies have instituted will remain.”

Massachusetts came out on top in 2021, with an overall score of 65.12. It ranked No. 1 in work-life balance and No 2 in child care, but No. 15 in professional opportunities.

Massachusetts was followed by District of Columbia, Connecticut, Vermont and Minnesota, in that order, to round out the top five.

Louisiana brought up the rear, with a score of 26.69, and ranking last in professional opportunities and No. 50 in child care.

Seven of the bottom 10 states are in the South: West Virginia (No. 42), Arkansas (43), Oklahoma (45), South Carolina (47), Mississippi (48) and Alabama (50).