NEW YORK – With men accounting for 72 percent of the nation's job losses since the beginning of the recession, many American families are looking to mom to bring home the bacon. Recent studies found that 40 percent of American women are now the primary earners for their families, and that means more and more moms are going back to work — or at least trying to.
"If you had told me five years ago I would be doing what I'm doing now, I might have said no way," said Liz Morgan, a full-time mom who hopes to return to the workforce.
Morgan, 44, worked for 13 years as a legal publisher before taking on the role of a stay-at-home mom. She left her job four years ago to spend more time with her kids, as her husband's small business provided for their family of five.
But being a stay-at-home mom is a luxury the Morgans can no longer afford.
"I thought, well, it shouldn't be too hard to find a part-time job, and that proved to be more difficult too. I'm not only competing with people my own age — there are a lot of younger people who have more flexible hours," she said. "I basically want to work between 8 and 3."
"They face a motherhood penalty which will make it harder for them," said Pam Stone, a professor of sociology at Hunter College in New York. "It would be hard enough because they have interrupted their careers and their skills are getting rusty."
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that an increasing number of married women with a college education between the ages of 25 and 44 are working. Some see the predominantly "male'" recession as an opportunity for women to make a new start.
"The sectors that men have traditionally found good jobs in — finance and technology — aren't going to be doing well going forward," said Sylvia Hewlett, founder of the Center for Work Life Policy.
"So I think a lot of couples are understanding that over the long haul it's the wife and the mother that has the better prospects in the job market."
Times have definitely changed, but not completely: despite women making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, women continue to be paid 23 cents less than men for every dollar earned, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
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