Mommy Money-Bags

What's the real market value of a mom? Think six figures, baby.

May 17, 2006 - WANTED: Woman to work 90 hours a week. Job involves heavy housekeeping and childcare duties, including cooking and laundry. Must have a knack for nurturing, share glory of job with other senior staff ("husband"), sometimes put up with insubordinate employees ("kids"), and remember to cut crusts off all sandwiches. SALARY: $134k.

It would cost $134,121 annually to pay professionals to replace a stay-at-home mom's work, according to a new study from Salary.com. Working moms would earn $85,876 annually for the "mom job" portion of their work, in addition to their actual "work job" salary, the study says.

Based on 400 responses from women with children aged 18 or younger, Salary.com came up with a list of 10 jobs that best matched a mom's definition of her day-to-day duties: housekeeper, daycare center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, CEO, and psychologist. They then multiplied the average number of hours spent on each task by a typical salary for the job functions to arrive at the total (ex: time spent acting as "household CEO" was valued at a $640,000 annual rate). All hours worked above 40 were considered overtime and paid at time and a half.

Critics of the study might argue that the number of women surveyed was small, the number of hours the moms said they worked were inflated, and the "typical salaries" each job function were based on were much higher than what they would be in many parts of the country. And the salary estimate is far higher than the U.S. Census Bureau's actual figures, which puts the median annual income of a woman who has a bachelor's degree and works full-time at $39,818.

"People recognize that both stay-at-home moms and working moms carry a heavy load of responsibility and work long hours," said Bill Coleman, senior vice president of compensation at Salary.com. "It is an eye-opener for many people when they see the real market value of the work moms perform."

Other interesting findings of the 2006 Stay-at-Home/Working Mom study:

  • All moms work an average of 90 hours a week -- working moms reported spending 44 hours at their "work job" and 49.8 at their "mom job" for a total of 93.8 hours. Stay-at-home moms reported working 91.6 hours at her "mom job."
  • Working moms get less sleep, reporting only 6.4 hours of sleep per night versus 6.7 for the stay-at-home moms.
  • Working moms and stay-at-home moms both spend roughly 4 hours per week nurturing the emotional needs of their kids in the "mom job" of psychologist. The big difference appears to be in the "mom job" of daycare center teacher, with stay-at-home moms reporting an average of 15.7 hours per week and working moms reporting 7.2 hours per week.

"Stay-at-home moms give up the benefits of working outside the home, including extra income, title, and career advancement. Working moms give up more sleep, time for exercise, and skip lunch to spend quality time nurturing and educating their children," says Senior Vice President Meredith Hanrahan of Salary.com Interactive.

What do you think about this study? Does the salary they suggest seem reasonable to you? Share your thoughts on our message board below:

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