Nightly News   |  May 29, 2013

Rise in women breadwinners signals societal shift

A recent Pew Center report found that in a record 40 percent of households with children under 18, mothers are now the sole or primary source of income for the family. NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports.

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>>> as we mentioned new numbers confirm what we have all seen happen across american society . the record number of moms who are now primary wage earners for their families. it is a dramatic change from a few decades back. nbc's rehema ellis has more on what's behind the numbers.

>> i'll push you three more times.

>> reporter: just north of atlanta trey burley is a freelance writer and a full time dad.

>> every day is daddy day for me. i'm a stay at home parent.

>> reporter: his wife is the primary breadwinner.

>> so i asked my husband could you please stay home with the kids? it was economical. i made more money than he did.

>> reporter: they are not alone. a pew center report finds in a record 40% of households with children under 18, mothers are now the sole or primary source of income for the family. it is a dramatic shift from 11% more than 50 years ago. the report revealed two distinct groups of working mothers. 37% have a higher income than their husbands. 63% are single moms.

>> ready to fly .

>> reporter: in los angeles becca breedlove, a divorced mother of 5-year-old river says staying home is not an option.

>> the reality is i have to work. i give her 110% when i get home.

>> reporter: more women enter the work force when men lost jobs during the recession. there are still questions about how far a woman's paycheck will stretch.

>> they are contributing to the family income . the concern is they earn only 77% of what men earn on average. if you're a single mother you cannot provide adequately for your family.

>> reporter: even though the survey says most americans think kids do better when mom is home the burly family says this arrangement works for them.

>> all right.

>> when you're in the situation you don't think about it. it's just your life, and you love it.

>> reporter: for many american families, this is the new normal.

>> let's eat with your right hand. what was your favorite part about the park.

>> reporter: rehema ellis, nbc news, new