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Study shows more mothers are household's primary breadwinner

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GREENSBORO – A new study shows more mothers are the top earners in their households than ever before.

The Pew Research Center says a record 40 percent of families with children under the age of 18 include moms who are the sole or primary breadwinner.

“For financial reasons, I have to work, but I also like that opportunity because I have been in my career for a while," said Deanne Miller, who works as a Marketing Specialist for Triad Goodwill.

Miller is part of the growing trend of women who earn more than their husbands.

"It does make me feel like I have more on my shoulders. It also makes me feel like the time I do have with him is more valuable than ever. Weekends to me are precious," she said about spending time with her son, Andrew, and her husband.

Miller said it's opened the lines of financial communication with her spouse.

"I feel an equal to my husband,” she said.

Elise Whitley, a partner at her family law firm in Winston-Salem, says having her husband at home with the children gives her family some flexibility.

"If I'm in court, then that's a big priority right there. If I have a sick kid then that's a big priority right there,” she said.

Whitley and her husband discussed the idea before they started their family.

"My husband and I were married several years before we had children and came to a decision about what we thought would be best for our kids," she said.

The study shows the working mom trend has been on the rise since 1960, when only 11 percent of women were the primary wage earners in the house. University of North Carolina at Greensboro Professor of Economics David Ribar said it has a lot to do with education.

"In most married couple households, husbands and wives have exactly the same levels of education. So, in about 60 percent of households they're equal," he said.

The impact of the recession on this study is unclear, but it did indicate a shift in a mother's view about earning income as a larger priority. Miller said it even determined her maternity leave.

“My husband and I, because of where we went through a period of unemployment during the recession, we had to delay trying or even thinking about having a child," she said.

Research shows the moms fall into two different groups, 37 percent are married, while 63 percent are single moms. The majority of people said they believe the trend makes it harder to raise children.

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