This Week's Herman Trend Alert

HR in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

March 7, 2000

More Educated Women Choosing Stay-at-Home Motherhood

299 days until January 1, 2001

Four years ago, a forecaster on "Louis Ruykeyser's Wall Street Week" predicted that a segment of Baby Boomers would stop working when their husband's incomes went up and they no longer had to work because the kids were out of the nest. We found his projection incredulous. We still do.

What we are seeing is related, but not the same. Highly educated young women, marrying young professionals, are choosing the Mommy Track over concentrating on their careers. If they can afford not to work, they're choosing that option. Frustrated by woefully inadequate (at least in their eyes), ridiculously expensive, or simply unavailable childcare, these socio-economically blessed young women are choosing to stay home.

One friend of ours, pregnant with her second child, recently stated the problem succinctly, "With the stress, expense, and additional hassle of having two children in childcare, I'm facing out-of-pocket costs of over $1000 per month. It hardly pays for me to work." These women resent being left to the care of babysitters when they were young and have resolved not to "do that" to their kids. They approach their childbearing years with the desire to "be there for their children." They still want to be productive, but not at the expense of their child(ren)'s development. For a segment of our population, staying home with their children is becoming the "in thing" to do.

So what are the implications of this trend? Employers will find jobs that these stay-at-home moms can do in their "free" time-jobs that can be done piecemeal, at any time of the day (or night). Examples of this type of work are research on the Internet, hand-addressing or typing envelopes, or developing some part of a complicated software program. Since these families will have less disposable income than their predecessors, they will be even more value-minded. Expect the rate of savings for this segment to slow temporarily, as well. Some entrepreneurial moms, looking to make a buck, may provide concierge services. This trend may have an impact on the labor shortage as well as companies' abilities to move women into management.

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