What Is Mom's Work Worth?

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Bill Coleman, senior vice president of compensation for Salary.com, estimates what a stay-at-home mom's income would be after adding up all the different jobs she does.

ED GORDON, host:

I'm Ed Gordon, and this is NEWS AND NOTES.

Mother's Day is this weekend, and for those of you who take mom's hard work for granted, listen to this. A new report from website Salary.com crunched the numbers and came up with a fair wage for the average stay- at-home mother raising one child under the age of five.

The grand total: $134,121.

For more on mom's worth, NPR's Farai Chideya spoke with Bill Coleman, Salary.com's Senior Vice President of Compensation.


Bill Coleman, thank you for joining us.

Mr. BILL COLEMAN (Senior Vice President of Compensation, Salary.com): Hello.

CHIDEYA: So, what jobs do stay-at-home mothers actually do?

Mr. COLEMAN: Stay-at-home mothers do a lot of jobs, and I think pretty much everybody in the audience knows most of the jobs that mom does. But for the purposes of our study we asked moms what they do, how they spend their day, in terms of jobs that you would typically see in the classifieds.

And we found a lot of mothers latching onto certain familiar-sounding jobs: laundry machine operator, housekeeper, janitor; also daycare center, teacher; we also heard psychologist and CEO.

CHIDEYA: Yes, the CEO of the home, absolutely. So, how many hours a week do stay-at-home moms work on average? And how many hours of sleep do they get a night?

Mr. COLEMAN: Stay-at-home moms, on average, tell us that they work about 91.5 hours a week, which is a little bit more than two full-time jobs worth. And it leaves them about six hours and 40 minutes a night of sleep.

CHIDEYA: Now, these women who stay at home - millions and millions of people, although less of a percentage than there has been in the past - also are contributing to the U.S. economy. In what ways do stay-at-home moms contribute to both the current and future economy in the U.S.?

Mr. COLEMAN: One obvious way that the mothers contribute to the future economy is by actually raising the future economy. Mothers are also certainly participating in the economy in bringing their kids to stores and bringing them to camps, to soccer practice; all of those things are often, at least, money generating or money moving things, which help contribute to the economy.

You know, in general, there's - a significant amount of the economy is driven by consumers, and mothers are consumers. They're also some of the time they're spending at home. Now, they can be shopping online.

CHIDEYA: Why did you decide to crunch the numbers on what stay-at-home moms would make when, frankly, they're not going to make it. Just by the virtue of being stay-at-home moms, they're doing all of this work either uncompensated or almost uncompensated.

Mr. COLEMAN: The reason we did this study is we've gotten a lot of feedback from people and people come to Salary.com all the time asking what should people in this job or that job get paid? And around this time of year, around Mother's Day, we do get a lot of questions from mothers or from kids writing in asking what should a mom get paid?

And although, it's not a - you know, it's not a salary that would ever be written, it's sort of a fun, timely way to educate people in the way compensation decisions are made. You know, and this year we've even created a novelty paycheck so if you wanted to show Mom what the paycheck would like, you could do that as a nice little thank you and Happy Mother's Day.

CHIDEYA: A paycheck and hopefully some flowers to go with it. Thank you very much, Bill Coleman.

Mr. COLEMAN: Thank you.

GORDON: That was NPR's Farai Chideya with Bill Coleman of Salary.com.

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