Michigan Named 3rd Worst State for Working Parents

Michigan ranks as one of the least favorable states for working parents, according to a recent study by SelectSoftware Reviews, specializing in HR and recruiting software. The study evaluated each state on a scale of 60, considering factors such as public school rankings, duration of available maternity leave, current cost of living, percentage of income required for childcare, and maternity leave pay. Michigan scored only 26.8 out of 60, securing the third-worst position, trailing behind New Mexico and Nevada.

Absence of Paid Maternity Leave

A major contributor to Michigan’s low ranking is the absence of paid maternity leave for working mothers. With no provision for paid maternity leave, mothers must depend on their employers’ policies, utilize personal sick or vacation days, or resort to unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which offers up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for eligible employees. This places significant financial and emotional strain on working mothers striving to balance career and family responsibilities.

Elevated Childcare Costs

Another hurdle for working parents in Michigan is the steep cost of childcare. The study reveals that Michigan experiences one of the highest proportions of income allocated to childcare expenses, accounting for 33% of the median household income. This surpasses the national average of 21%. Childcare costs vary based on service type, quality, and location, ranging from $9,000 to $15,000 annually for an infant and $7,000 to $12,000 for a preschooler. These expenses pose a considerable burden, particularly for working parents with modest incomes.

Subpar Public School Quality

The quality of public schools is a crucial concern for working parents, influencing their children’s education and development. The study assessed each state’s public school system using criteria like average test scores, graduation rates, student-teacher ratios, and per-pupil spending. Michigan ranked 29th out of 50 states, falling below the national average. The state’s public schools grapple with persistent issues such as inadequate funding, subpar performance, and high dropout rates. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Michigan ranks 35th in math and 30th in reading among fourth-graders, and 33rd in math and 35th in reading among eighth-graders. Additionally, Michigan’s graduation rate is notably low at 80%, compared to the national average of 85%.


Michigan poses significant challenges for working parents due to the absence of paid maternity leave, high childcare costs, and subpar public school quality. These factors make it challenging for parents to navigate the delicate balance between work and family life and provide optimal opportunities for their children. To address these challenges, Michigan should consider policy and program improvements, such as expanding paid family leave, increasing funding for childcare subsidies and public schools, and raising the minimum wage. These measures would not only benefit working parents but also contribute to the overall well-being of the economy and society.


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