WASHINGTON — Working dads often provide the sole income for their families. While it’s no longer as common as it was in the 1960s, when three-quarters of American families relied on the father’s paycheck, dad still plays a major role in today’s society. So where are the best places for fathers to work and raise their kids? A new survey finds many parents may want to consider a move to the East Coast.
In honor of Father’s Day, a WalletHub study finds Massachusetts to be the best state for working dads. “The Bay State” ranks first in the nation in terms of both work-life balance and child care, according to researchers. Massachusetts is also the second-best state in overall health scores and third in economic and social well-being.
Last year, 93.3 percent of married dads were part of the country’s workforce, in comparison to slightly over 69 percent of married moms. The survey specifically looked at the best places across America for men who serve as both a caregiver and a provider for their families. To do this, researchers examined 23 key factors which measure “friendliness” towards working fathers.
Results show that Massachusetts isn’t the only East Coast state that makes things easy to be a working dad. In fact, Washington, D.C. (2nd), New Jersey (4th), Connecticut (5th), Rhode Island (6th), Vermont (7th), and New York (8th) all rank in the top 10 states friendly to fathers.
Surprising states struggling economically and socially
The news isn’t so upbeat for every state in the union, especially when it comes to financial matters. The study finds Nevada ranks as the worst state overall for working dads currently. New Mexico (50th) and Louisiana (49th) follow closely behind.
In fact, New Mexico scores lowest in terms of “economic & social well-being.” This score measures a family’s average income, the amount of men able to afford monthly expenses, the unemployment rate among men with children, and the number of children with fathers present living in poverty.
Surprisingly, despite being the home of “Silicon Valley” and Hollywood, California ranks as the second-worst state when looking at economic and social well-being. Stunningly, California has the third-lowest average family income after adjusting for the cost of living, according to the WalletHub results.
“The Golden State” also finishes second-to-last in “child care” scores. These measured the quality of local day-cares, the cost of raising kids, the number of pediatricians per capita, and the quality of each state’s school system.
For dads looking for a long and healthy life, they may want to stay out of the south. Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, and Louisiana make up the top five states with the lowest life expectancies for men.
For fathers hoping to spend more time with their kids, heading north is not such a good idea. Alaska, Wyoming, and North Dakota all tie for having the longest work days among men.
A dad’s work is never done
Of course, being a dad isn’t just about being a “bread winner,” parents have to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy too. The study finds Massachusetts also tops the list with the most number of men with health insurance in the United States. Hawaii and the District of Columbia round out the top three with the most insured dads.
When it’s time to take the kids to the doctor, Mississippi comes in as the most affordable state for raising children. Child care costs there amount to just 5.4 percent of a family’s annual income. For comparison, child care costs are twice as high in Nebraska, which ranks as the highest at 11.3 percent.
As dads everywhere get their “#1 dad” mugs and new ties this year, researchers say it’s important that working dads find the right balance between their careers and family life and ask for help when they need it.
“Fathers raising children with their partners need to talk to them so that everyone is on the same page about balancing careers and family together,” says Jaclyn Wong from the University of South Carolina’s Department of Sociology.
“Any decision about careers or family ripples out to affect the other domain and other people so maintaining the balance your family wants requires constant open communication. Beyond a family unit, fathers can stand together with other parents to advocate for the workplace and governmental policies that help everyone better balance work and personal life.”
WalletHub’s best states for working dads:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- New York
- North Dakota
WalletHub’s worst states for working dads:
45. South Carolina
47. West Virginia
50. New Mexico