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Mom's Work, Never Done, Is Now Worth Less, Too

Allison Linn
Tuesday, 7 May 2013 | 9:28 AM ET
Michael Blann | Digital Vision | Getty Images

If moms earned wages for the work they do around the house and with the kids, they'd be getting a pay cut this year.

The take-home pay that a mother would earn for everything from cooking to handling the family finances would total at $59,862 if she were paid on the open market, according to Insure.com's analysis of government data on hourly wages.

That's down from $60,182 in 2012 and $61,436 in 2011, Insure.com's annual Mother's Day Index shows.

The drop is because typical wages for some domestic jobs have fallen, said Amy Danise, a spokeswoman for Insure.com.

The Mother's Day Index tallies 14 jobs that moms might perform, including cooking, driving, cleaning and taking care of the kids, and then looks at Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data for those tasks. Danise said the website compiled its list by brainstorming about typical mothers' tasks, and coming up with a typical number of hours she might spend on them.

By Insure.com's tally, a mom's average work week would be significantly longer than 40 hours - although most moms would probably also agree that parenting requires far longer hours than your average desk job.

The total does not include the wages that moms earn for paid work they do outside the home.

The Insure.com data is not meant to be a rigorous analysis of the value of domestic work.

"It's more like a fun way of looking at serious topic," Danise said.

But some economists have taken a more serious look at the value of housework. A report released last year by the government's Bureau of Economic Analysis found that adding "nonmarket household production" to the nation's gross domestic product would have raised nominal GDP by 39 percent in 1965 and 26 percent in 2010.

That figure would include jobs such as cooking, cleaning and child care that both men and women do around the house.

The decline in the contribution to GDP is because the hours women spent on housework fell from 40 hours per week in 1965 to 26 hours per week in 2010, and more women entered the paid workforce. That more than offset the increase, from 14 hours in 1965 to 17 hours per week in 2010, that men spent on domestic tasks.

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