Bridget Piggery, a single mother of four, was a restaurant server at Applebee's making minimum wage at $2.33 an hour. Unable to afford the basics like rent or transportation, she was forced to move in with her mother. "I was a good server, I worked hard, I worked double shifts to try to make ends meet and it still wasn't enough," said Piggery, a member of 9to5 Wisconsin.
Nearly 30 percent of all households with children are led by single mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family. They are younger, more likely to be African American or Latina, and less likely to have a college degree. These women are working hard and playing by the rules, but even working full-time, they can't afford the basics -- from food to doctor visits and repairs. Often invisible to the world, these women provide essential services in our communities -- they clean our homes and offices, cook and serve us our food, and care for our children and elderly parents.
Despite record high corporate profits, some multi-billion dollar companies are holding down wages and job standards, leading to a chasm of income inequality hitting single working mothers the hardest. When profitable companies pay wages so low that workers qualify for food stamps it becomes a problem for everyone. If jobs don't pay enough for working families to afford the basics -- then workers can't spend to keep the economy moving.
Single working mothers in low-wage jobs are least likely to have any paid sick, personal, or vacation time at all, leaving one of the most vulnerable segments of our workforce unprotected. Unfortunately, many women are still forced to go to work when they need to be at home caring for themselves or their families when they're ill. Not only are millions of women not paid fairly and denied paid sick days and family leave, the lack of available, affordable, quality child care is one of the biggest obstacles to low-income mothers being able to enter and stay in the workforce.
While some naysayers including politicians and television personalities want to blame working mothers for the state of our nation, it's really the state of our nation that's to blame for these issues facing working mothers.
We all have a role to play to regain real economic prosperity. We have to exercise our political power to ensure that corporations provide a higher floor for wages and Congress creates public policies that ensure basic labor standards -- a fair minimum wage, predictable and stable work schedules, paid sick days and paid family leave, and affordable, quality child care. Working together, we can create an economy that works for all of us.