Places With the Most Stay-At-Home Parents

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Updated on Monday, March 22, 2021

The percentage of parents staying at home with their children amid the coronavirus crisis has risen 60% across all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 2019, according to the latest study from MagnifyMoney.

And with this massive shift in daily life comes growing challenges for parents that they couldn’t have anticipated before the COVID-19 crisis. To find out how much has changed nationwide, we used U.S. Census Bureau data to compare the pre-pandemic levels of parents staying at home with their children to the levels now. Here’s what we found.

Key findings

  • The percentage of parents staying at home with their children across the 50 states and the District of Columbia has risen 60% since 2019.
  • Mississippi tops the list of places with the most stay-at-home parents in 2021, with 6.5% of households having one parent staying at home with their children. Delaware is second at 5.6% and Texas is third at 3.5%.
  • Iowa (0.9%), Minnesota (1.0%) and Maine (1.2%) have the lowest proportion of parents staying at home with their children in 2021.
  • Only 4 states had fewer stay-at-home parents in 2021 than prior to the coronavirus pandemic, led by California (16% decrease) and Louisiana (11% decrease).

Percentage of households with stay-at-home parents has risen 60% between 2019 and 2021

On average, 2.4% of parents are staying at home with their children as of early 2021, up from pre-COVID-19 levels of 1.5% in 2019. It’s important to remember, though, that every parent’s situation is different.

For example, 9.9 million jobs were lost nationwide from February 2020 through December 2020, meaning many parents may have settled into a stay-at-home routine with their kids as a result.

Other challenges in 2020 and early 2021 included:

  • Lack of child care options
  • Disabilities or health issues amid global pandemic
  • Ability to do job in a remote setting

And those who aren’t staying home during this time may be essential workers or have support from a partner or other family member, making it possible to work outside the home.

Mississippi, Delaware and Texas have the most stay-at-home parents in 2021

In some states, the pandemic’s impact on parents has been profound, with the rate of staying at home with children increasing more than 100% compared with pre-pandemic levels.

Places with the most stay-at-home parents
StatePercentage of households with stay-at-home parents in 2019Percentage of households with stay-at-home parents in 2021Percentage difference
Mississippi1.6%6.5%306%
Delaware1.6%5.6%250%
Texas1.6%3.5%119%

Mississippi led the charge by a wide margin. In fact, the percentage of households with stay-at-home parents in the state grew more than four times — or 306% — from pre-pandemic levels in 2019, when only 1.6% of parents stayed home with their children. By mid-Yay, 55% of child care centers in Mississippi had closed or were operating on a limited basis.

Delaware came in second with the percentage of parents staying home with their children more than tripling amid the COVID-19 crisis, from 1.6% to 5.6%. In the state, the percentage of jobs dropped 9.1% from February through December 2020, versus 6.5% nationwide.

Texas also landed on the list, with a nearly 120% increase in households with stay-at-home parents, despite limited circumstances for schools to shut in the 2020-21 academic year.

Iowa, Minnesota and Maine have the fewest stay-at-home parents in 2021

Two of the top three states were in the Midwest, with one (Iowa) seeing a decrease from 2019 to 2021.

Places with the fewest stay-at-home parents
StatePercentage of households with stay-at-home parents in 2019Percentage of households with stay-at-home parents in 2021Percentage difference
Iowa1%0.9%-10%
Minnesota0.9%1%11%
Maine1%1.2%20%

Despite Iowa losing a third of its child care facilities over the past five years — which could generally make it difficult for some parents to avoid a work-from-home setup — the state never had an official stay-at-home order.

By contrast, both Minnesota and Maine did have such orders in place. And both states had increases in the proportion of stay-at-home parents over the course of the pandemic, so that makes sense. Minnesota’s order ended May 4, while Maine’s order ended May 31.

The average income in single-working-parent households in the top three places with the most stay-at-home parents (Mississippi, Delaware and Texas) is $97,457, compared with $106,592 in the bottom three places (Iowa, Minnesota and Maine).

District of Columbia has seen largest increase of stay-at-home parents since 2019

The District of Columbia saw the largest increase amid the pandemic with 317% growth in the proportion of stay-at-home parents.

Places with the largest increase in stay-at-home parents
StatePercentage of households with stay-at-home parents in 2019Percentage of households with stay-at-home parents in 2021Percentage difference
District of Columbia0.6%2.5%317%
Mississippi1.6%6.5%306%
Delaware1.6%5.6%250%

Looking at increases between 2019 and 2021, the District of Columbia saw the highest jump in stay-at-home parents compared to before the pandemic.

They did have stringent COVID-19 guidelines in place, including a stay-at-home order that was lifted May 29, and a 10-person cap on workers and children in child care facilities during Phase 1 of reopening.

The trend of increases in the percentage of stay-at-home parents wasn’t unusual, though. In fact, 46 states and D.C. saw increases to varying degrees.

California has seen largest decrease of stay-at-home parents since 2019

California saw the largest decrease (16%) amid the pandemic.

Places with the largest decrease in stay-at-home parents
StatePercentage of households with stay-at-home parents in 2019Percentage of households with stay-at-home parents in 2021Percentage difference
California2.5%2.1%-16%
Louisiana1.8%1.6%-11%
Iowa1%0.9%-10%

California had a 16% drop in the percentage of households with stay-at-home parents, the highest proportion of any state. Oddly, it also saw a significant percentage —8.3% — of job losses from February through December 2020, nearly two percentage points more than the national average.

However, the state’s top three work categories require working outside the home:

  • Home health and personal care aides
  • Fast food and counter workers
  • Cashiers

Like the Golden State, Louisiana also has a high number of workers in essential jobs, including cashiers, laborers and registered nurses.

Overall, it’s worth noting that only four states saw decreases in stay-at-home parents, with one state remaining the same.

4 financial tips for parents living on a single income

Parenting while living on a single income can be difficult. Here are some options to help ease the load:

  • Build an emergency fund: “Building and maintaining an emergency fund is especially important for parents living on a single income,” said Ken Tumin, DepositAccounts’ founder. It would be wise, he said, to maintain an emergency fund that’s larger than the typical three to six months’ worth of living expenses. An emergency fund in the range of six to 12 months would be prudent, he said, but that’s a luxury many families can’t obtain amid a global pandemic.
  • Automate your bill payments: When you’re on a single income, it pays to think ahead. Setting up autopay is not only convenient, but it helps you avoid costly late fees. That means you’ll be helping out your credit profile, too, which can lead to greater long-term savings. If, for example, you need to take out a loan down the line, a higher credit score could help you get a lower rate and thereby save on interest payments.
  • Find your best online bank: When you’re on a tight budget, every bit helps — and switching banks can provide a small boost to help. The best online banks, for example, will offer better interest rates so that you can let your money work for you, just by keeping it in the account, as well as offer minimal fees.
  • Consider moving: Depending on where you live, rent prices may have decreased significantly during this time. And because housing is often the largest expense, it’s also the place where you can make the biggest dent if you’re able to move. Of course, moving amid a pandemic is not possible or right for everyone, but it can be good to consider if you’re having trouble getting by.

Methodology

MagnifyMoney used 2019 American Community Survey microdata hosted on IPUMS and Week 22 data (Jan. 6 to Jan. 18, 2021) from the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey to calculate the percentage of two-parent households where at least one parent is home with their children and isn’t part of the labor force. We then compared 2019 (pre-COVID-19) and 2021 data to calculate the percentage differences.