Women are Half of all U.S. Workers

Laura Long always loved being a stay-at-home mom with her two kids. But now, CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports, she's making more than sandwiches - she's the family bread-winner too.

Her husband Russ lost his job last year. Now, instead of managing securities on Wall Street, Russ attempts to manage the house.

"He's doing the best he can, but he's not a mom," said Laura.

When we first met the Longs nine months ago - Laura had just started a part-time job as a nurse. Now with Russ' job prospects uncertain, she's gone full-time.

"It's kind of like the opposite now," said their son Louis. "Because it used to be my dad gets home and now my mom gets home."

"I feel like I'm never at home anymore," said Laura. "I miss my kids. I miss being at home."

Jobless Execs Face Tough Lifestyle Changes
The Shriver Report, Poll

The Long's family story is becoming the new normal, since almost 40 percent of mothers are the main wage-earner. That's difficult economically because women earn 77 cents to every dollar men make.

And when the recession began in late 2007, men and women shared the same unemployment rate - 4.4 percent. But by this September, there was a gap: men 10.3 percent compared to 7.8 percent for women - as male-dominated jobs were hit hardest.

That means change in the workplace and at home. Things don't always run smoothly.

"There are two issues - dinner and homework," said Russ. "Those are always the two issues, because I don't always think much about dinner. I figure, oh, we'll whip something together."

Ben, their son, said, "mom always wants dinner to be perfect."

It can be hard for mothers to redefine their role, says Ellen Galinsky of the "Families and Work Institute."

"She used to be the one at home making sure they weren't eating ice cream for dinner," said Galinsky. "Now she's going to depend on someone else - and that's pretty scary."

Even as the family dynamic shifts, a new pollsuggests the old way still looks pretty good. More than half of both men and women agree that "it is better for a family if the father works outside the home and the mother takes care of the children."

The Long kids disagree.

Doane said, "Ben told me he liked having Russ (dad) at home."

"I'm sure he does," Laura replied. "Because he's a lot more lenient than me!"

Despite the growing pains, the Longs feel lucky.

Ben said, "I think that me and my brother have gotten to bond with my dad a lot more."

By accelerating change, the recession is redefining the roles in American family life.
  • Seth Doane

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