The role of the modern working dad isn't what it used to be. With Father's Day upon us, it's a good time to look at how a new generation of working dads measure what's important to them.
Flashback to the 1960s when dads went off to work in the morning, logged a long day at the office, and returned in the evening for a cocktail with the wife and a pat on the head for the kids before the young ones dashed off to bed. Dads brought home the bacon, manned the grill on Sundays, and otherwise had little to no engagement with their offspring. Back then, the only thing working dads were worried about was the size of their paychecks.
But today, 60 percent of family households rely on two incomes. And with moms at work, dads have stepped up, sharing more of the household and child-rearing responsibilities. Modern dads also want to be more involved in the lives of their kids, and they place a higher value on the needs of their families, weighing issues such as school rankings and parental leave policies when considering taking a new job.
While the number of stay-at-home dads is on the rise, 93 percent of dads with kids younger than 18 have some sort of employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In a new study, researchers at WalletHub took a look at the best and worst states for working dads. They looked at all 50 states and the District of Columbia for unemployment rates for fathers, the high school dropout rate for men, and the median income for families, as well as other factors that looked beyond the paycheck such as parental leave policies, commute time, child care costs, access to pediatricians and school rankings. They also factored in health concerns such as male life expectancy, number of urologists, number of men diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and the percentage of men who reported maintaining adequate activity levels.
Minnesota, New Hampshire and Massachusetts snagged the top three spots for working dads. Vermont, New Jersey, Virginia, Wisconsin, Maryland, Utah and Connecticut rounded out the top 10. Mississippi came in dead last, with Nevada, Arkansas, West Virginia, Louisiana, New Mexico, Alaska, Alabama, Idaho and Arizona filling in the lowest spots. Mississippi had some of the lowest child care costs for kids, but it also had the lowest life expectancy for men and one of the highest percentages of dads with kids younger than 18 living in poverty. New Hampshire was almost at the bottom of the list for factors such as commute time and parental leave policies, but the state's scores for child care costs, health factors and economic opportunities pushed it up to the number two spot.
Interestingly, the District of Columbia, which had the highest median income for families — the factor that would have weighed most heavily for working dads in the 1960s — only came in at 36 on the list due to its lower scores for child care costs and life expectancy for men. So what does this say?
Modern working dads want more than a paycheck; they want a life for themselves and their families as well.
How did your state rank on the list? Check out the WalletHub site for the full details.
Related on MNN: