DC area is home to more working parents than many other US cities

The D.C. area ranks high on a list of cities with the fewest stay-at-home parents, adding to the challenges local families face as many schools reopen virtually and parents must juggle work and child care.

Stay-at-home mothers and fathers account for less than 20% of parents in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center.

That means over 80% of parents in the country worked either full- or part-time in 2016 (the most recent year available), according to the report.

And a recent analysis by Smartest Dollar — a California-based company that reviews financial products and services — found that D.C., Maryland and Virginia are home to a high number of working parents.

Among cities in large metro areas (1 million people or more) that have the most full-time working parents, the area comprising D.C. and Arlington and Alexandria, in Virginia, together came in at No. 8 on Smartest Dollar’s list, also based on 2018 census data.

The three cities are home to 175,000 married-couple households where both parents work, and nearly 64,000 households with a single parent who works.

In all, 47% of households in D.C., Arlington and Alexandria lack a stay-at-home parent to watch their children, according to the analysis.

Richmond, Virginia, came in at No. 3 on the list, with nearly 34,000 married households where both parents work and more than 15,000 households with a single working parent.

Richmond’s share of households without a stay-at-home parent stood at 48.5%.

And the cities of Baltimore, Columbia and Towson, in Maryland, took the No. 2 spot, with nearly half of households lacking a stay-at-home parent.

St. Louis, Missouri, took the top spot: Its share of households without a stay-at-home parent was 52%.

To calculate the metro areas with the most full-time working parents, researchers at Smartest Dollar analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample.

The researchers ranked areas according to the share of households with children under 14 that potentially lack a parent to supervise their children (defined as either both parents working full-time in two-parent families, or one parent working full-time in single-parent families).

Anna Gawel

Anna Gawel joined WTOP in 2020 and works in both the radio and digital departments. Anna Gawel has spent much of her career as the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat, which has been the flagship publication of D.C.’s diplomatic community for over 25 years.

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