What Jobs Are Teen Moms in America Most Likely to Work?

Ryan Morris
by Ryan Morris
Uncategorized - 9 months ago
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Teen moms catch a lot of flak in the media for choices that are often out of their hands.

Rather than focusing on issues like inadequate sex education programs or the poor support structures currently in place for teenage mothers, much of the blame in anti-teenage pregnancy campaigns is put squarely on the mothers themselves.

Among various other complaints about the supposed inadequacies of teenage parents, at the top of the list for most of the critics tends to be the low rates of education and achievements made by teen parents. And it’s true that on the whole, teen parents and the children of teen parents have higher education drop out rates, which can limit opportunities tremendously.

But are they really achieving less? What sort of jobs do teen parents go on to work, and are they really all that different from the jobs everyone else works?

We were curious — so, using US Census data from the American Community Survey, we set out to look for the answer. Here’s what we found:

So What Do We See?

In the chart above, you’ll find the top 15 jobs that our data lists as the most likely for teen moms to be working, along with the percent likelihood that they’re being worked.

All of the data in this chart and in the table below was found in the American Community Survey’s Public Use Microdata Sample, or PUMS. This particular data is from the 2016 PUMS data set, which was originally released on October 19, 2017, so it’s about as fresh as you can get.

A link to the 5-year PUMS data used in this chart can be found here.

In the above chart, every blue bar moving toward the right side of the page indicates how much more likely it is, by total percentage, that a teen mom will hold each respective job.

Top of the list is Miscellaneous Production Workers, Packers and Packagers, Maids and Housecleaners — all service positions that require very low education levels in order to work, and may not even require high school educations in some cases.

Continuing this train of thought are the Cooks, the Janitors and Building Cleaners, the Cashiers, and the Retail Sales Workers. The list even includes an option for those whose jobs are not applicable, which in this case means that they are either younger than 16 years old or that they last worked either more than 5 years ago or else never worked.

But lastly, a surprising amount of medicine-related jobs can also be found on this list, such as Personal Care Aides, Nursing, Psychiatric, and Home Health Aides, and Medical Assistants, Licensed Practical and Vocational Nurses.

This doesn’t shatter the low education narrative, but it does start to wobble a bit here — after all, while nursing may not take quite the level of education that being a doctor requires, it still takes a lot. Typically a nurse will need either a 4-year education with a nursing related major or a 3-year program geared toward nurses with associate’s degrees or nursing certifications.

Some Explanations

So the data doesn’t look great for teenage parents — teen mothers are disproportionately more likely to take on low-education service positions than they would be otherwise, and there’s no getting around that statistic. If that’s how you measure success (or the lack of it), then this is the end of the article for you.

But, as with most things, that’s not the whole story. For one thing, these jobs aren’t just the most common for teen mothers — they’re also the most common for the majority of Americans.

As this article from AOL details, some of the most popular jobs in America according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics include a few of the following options:

  • Retail Salespeople
  • Cashiers
  • Food Prep and Service Workers
  • Registered Nurses
  • Material Movers
  • Janitors

For those of you following along, you might notice that these options are all either extremely similar to or are exactly the same as the most common jobs for teen mothers.

Of course, we’ve already established that teen mothers are disproportionately likely to have these jobs than those who aren’t — so why is it that these jobs are also so common among the rest of Americans?

It probably has something to do with the way that teen pregnancies and income distribution work in America. For one thing, teen pregnancies are more likely to come from low-income families due to the fact that these families typically have lower access to education in general (and thus also sex education) as well as health services such as contraceptives.

For another thing, the bottom 90% of Americans together have just a little over half of the wealth of the top 1% of Americans. 45 million Americans, or 14.5% of them, live below the poverty line.

That’s a lot of American citizens without a lot of help or resources at their disposal — America is the richest country in the world, and it’s also the home of the largest wealth distribution gap. Funny how that works out.

You can probably guess where this is heading. Teen pregnancies stem from low income and lack of education, and a massive number of Americans are living in poverty or worse — coincidentally, America has the highest teen birth rates of any developed country, dwarfing nations such as Canada, France, Germany, and Japan.

Three in ten American teenage girls will get pregnant, 2/3 of whom live in poverty. And once they do get pregnant, rather than getting the resources and support that they need, many of them come face to face with anti-teen pregnancy campaigns that place the blame on individuals rather than on the societal problems that might have caused or contributed to the issue.

It doesn’t take a high school diploma to see that this might not be the best tactic to take.

Wrapping Up

That’s all for now. Below you’ll find a table of teen moms’ most common occupations, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.

No matter your own current job, you can search for jobs yourself using our official search page at Zippia.com.

Or are you looking for more articles like this one? Here’s a look at which US states have the highest (and lowest) divorce rates in the nation.

Full Chart

Occupation Percent More Common For Teen Moms
Miscellaneous Production Workers, Including Semiconductor Processors 210.72%
Packers And Packagers, Hand 179.27%
Maids And Housekeeping Cleaners 154.16%
Personal Care Aides 134.64%
Nursing, Psychiatric, And Home Health Aides 101.41%
Medical Assistants 100.20%
Miscellaneous Assemblers And Fabricators 85.16%
Janitors And Building Cleaners 64.11%
Cooks 44.98%
Licensed Practical And Licensed Vocational Nurses 41.52%
N/A (less than 16 years old/NILF who last worked more than 5 years ago or never worked) 36.61%
Food Service Managers 28.35%
First-Line Supervisors Of Retail Sales Workers 21.88%
Miscellaneous Managers, Including Funeral Service Managers And Postmasters And Mail Superintendents 8.33%
Cashiers 4.97%
Secretaries And Administrative Assistants 4.42%
Office Clerks, General 3.63%
Laborers And Freight, Stock, And Material Movers, Hand 2.42%
Stock Clerks And Order Fillers 1.85%
Customer Service Representatives -2.11%
Unemployed And Last Worked 5 Years Ago Or Never Worked -2.24%
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, And Cosmetologists -6.34%
Preschool And Kindergarten Teachers -8.19%
Teacher Assistants -11.39%
Food Preparation Workers -16.63%
Retail Salespersons -25.94%
Waiters And Waitresses -26.85%
Receptionists And Information Clerks -30.28%
Registered Nurses -30.58%
Childcare Workers -38.67%

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