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Guess Who's Bringing Home the Bacon? Working Wives are the Breadwinners
But even though wives earned almost half of the family finances -- 47 percent in 2009, up from 45 percent the previous year -- they're still not making the big bucks, the study finds. This is the biggest jump in 15 years, but not because their salaries rose, rather because more of their husbands lost jobs, the study says.
"Make no mistake: This increase is not due to advancement or opportunities for women, but rather it is an indication of hard financial times for families," says Kristin Smith, a family demographer at the Institute, in the study.
Women weren't getting higher wages during the recession, according to the study. The median wages of employed wives fell to $30,000 in 2009, from $31,041 two years earlier. The median income of husbands with employed wives fell in that time to $42,000 from $46,562.
At the same time, the economy is striking its blow at more of the male-dominated jobs, such as construction and manufacturing, which leaves wives earning more of the family pay, the study states.
"As husbands lose their jobs, family earnings plummet, and the role of wives' earnings often becomes critical to keeping families afloat," Smith says.
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