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Published:August 7th, 2009 20:21 EST
A Mom is worth $134,000? What a crock!

A Mom is worth $134,000? What a crock!

By Bruce H.G. Calder (Editor)

Salary.com, a website that tracks salaries for a variety of jobs, has come up with the "Mom Salary Wizard" which will calculate what your job as a stay-at-home mother is "really worth", based on all that work you do around the house. For example, if you spend 10 hours cleaning the house each week, at the $10.77 an hour rate a housekeeper should make, you should be pulling in $5600.40 a year just for that. Throw in everything else mothers do, from psychologist to cook to "Chief Executive Officer", the average American stay-at-home mother is worth $134,000 a year.

I don`t want to diminish the value of a parent who chooses to stay home and raise their child, but every so often somebody comes up with a new value for being a Mom based on such calculations, and every time it`s a crock. Excellent publicity, lousy logic. These math exercises are good for dinner-table conversation fodder, but I sure hope nobody takes this too seriously-- especially those at home who already don`t feel very worthwhile. Besides, I like being a stick-in-the-mud.

Nevermind that there are many jobs omitted from the list-- tutor, personal assistant, triage nurse, and warden come to mind, the fault in the logic stems from the fact that the actual value of something in dollars is derived not from any assumption of what something is worth, but from what somebody is actually willing to pay for it. The law of supply and demand is in play, and outside of Beverly Hills I don`t see too many people paying a hundred grand for 50 hours a week of minding their child and house, even if you threw in some free gardening. And I think it`s safe to say that if I had to spend $134,000 a year to have a child, I no doubt would take a pass on the whole experience. If parents stopped popping out kids for free, maybe the government would have to start paying 6 figures to get people to have children. More likely the government would just import more from overseas, which would be far more cost-effective. What`s true for cars and McDonald`s Happy Meal toys is no doubt true for kids as well.

In addition, many of the Salary.com assumptions are quite ridiculous, starting with the job of "Chief Executive Officer" that the average Mom is said to perform for 4.6 hours a week. This accounts for $44,421.83 a year, or almost a third of the value of Mom`s so-called yearly worth! Unfortunately most people can`t simply snap their fingers and become CEO of a major corporation, let alone one who is allowed to work less than a day a week. And come on, how can running a billion-dollar, multinational company with thousands of workers compare with managing a household with maybe 4 "employees", plus pets and a yearly operating budget of less than $100,000? At home, you don`t even have to worry about angry "shareholders" unless your mother-in-law lives nearby.

Another job for the stay-at-home Mom is "Facilities Manager", which is supposedly worth $43.02 an hour, or the equivalent of over $90,000 a year if you were doing it full time! At that rate, you should be managing hundreds of buildings, and not just single-family homes. Face it Mom, you are not a "facilities manager." And then there is "Psychologist" at $39.90 an hour for 3 and-a-half hours a week. What training as a psychologist do you have? None? Oh, I see. So you think it is reasonable to pay almost $40 an hour for medical services to somebody with no medical training? No wonder nobody wants to hire you as the CEO of their multi-billion dollar company.

If you want to demean yourself by putting a price tag on everything you do around the house, fine. But remember, most likely everything you`re doing as a parent is "unskilled labor" for which you have not been formally trained. Unskilled labor goes for $10 an hour or so, which for 49.8 hours a week, works out to something south of $26,000 a year, a far cry from $134,000 Salary.com thinks you`re worth.

And to top it off, they don`t take into account what the child is worth!

  • Cartoonist: $24.00/hr " 5 hours a week = $6,240/yr.
  • Artist: $10.00/hr " 7 hours a week = $3,640/yr.
  • Personal Fitness Trainer (making you run and jump): $40.00/hr " 10 hours a week = $20,800/yr.
  • Actor (if Rob Schnieder can make millions of dollars for Deuce Bigalow): $250.00/hr " 5 hours a week = $65,000/yr. (at least)
  • Philosopher ("Mom, I don`t think God likes spiders"): $24/hr - 2 hours a week = $2,496/yr.
  • Detective (especially if you have older children): $75/hr " 3 hours a week = $11,700/yr.
  • Food critic ("Mom, this is yucky. I like K.D. better"): $30/hr " 3.5 hours a week = $5,460/yr.

Grand total - $115,336.00. Include Athlete, Explorer, and Contract Negotiator ("just five more minutes and I`ll go right to bed") you could easily push this past 150K. Sounds like parents get pretty good value for their efforts.