Mother’s Day (May)

The first Mother’s Day observance was a church service in 1908 requested by Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia to honor her deceased mother. Jarvis’ mother expressed hope of establishing a day to commemorate all mothers. Her mother also expressed the sentiment that there were many days dedicated to men but none to mothers. Two years after her mother’s death, Jarvis and friends began a letter-writing campaign to declare a national Mother’s Day observance to honor mothers.

President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation on May 9, 1914, asking Americans to give a public expression of reverence to mothers through the celebration of Mother’s Day. Congress passed the legislation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Carnations have come to represent the day, following President William McKinley’s habit of always wearing a white carnation, his mother’s favorite flower.

Facts for Features (2011)

    • How Many Mothers

85.4 million
Estimated number of mothers in the United States in 2008.

Percentage of 15- to 44-year-old women who were mothers in 2008.

Percentage of women 40 to 44 who had given birth as of 2008. In 1976, 90 percent of women in that age group had given birth.

    • How Many Children

The total fertility rate or number of births in 2008 per woman in Utah (based on current birth rates by age), which led the nation. At the other end of the spectrum is Vermont, with a total fertility rate of 1.7 births per woman.

Among the 37.8 million mothers living with children younger than 18 in 2004, the percentage who lived with their biological children only. In addition, 3 percent lived with stepchildren, 2 percent with any adopted children and less than 1 percent with any foster children.

    • Moms Who’ve Recently Given Birth

4.13 million
Number of births registered in the United States in 2009. Of this number, 409,840 were to teens 15 to 19 and 7,934 to mothers 45 to 54.

Average age of women in 2008 when they gave birth for the first time, up from 25.0 years in 2006 and 2007. The increase in the mean age from 2007 to 2008 reflects, in part, the relatively large decline in births to women under age 25 compared with the small decline for women in the 25-39 age bracket.

Percentage of births that were the mother’s first in 2008. Another 32 percent were the second-born; 17 percent, third; and 7 percent, fourth.

Number of births in 2008 that were the mother’s eighth or more.

Number of births in 2008 that did not occur in hospitals. Of these, 28,357 were in a residence (home) and 12,014 were in a freestanding birthing center.

Number of twin births per 1,000 total births in 2008, the highest rate on record.

Number of triplet and higher order multiple births in 2008, the lowest number reported in more than a decade. The 2008 triplet and higher order multiple total included 5,877 triplets, 345 quadruplets, and 46 quintuplets and higher order multiples.

The month with the highest number of births, with 375,384 in 2008.

The most common day to deliver, with an average of 13,415 births taking place on Tuesdays in 2008.

Jacob and Isabella
The most popular baby names for boys and girls, respectively, in 2009.

Number of births in the past year per 1,000 women 15 to 50 with a graduate or professional degree. These women have a higher fertility rate than those with any other level of education.

    • Mothers Remembered

Number of florist establishments nationwide in 2008. The 89,741 employees in floral shops across our nation will be especially busy preparing, selling and delivering floral arrangements for Mother’s Day.

The flowers bought for mom have a good chance of having been grown in California. Among the 15 surveyed states, California was the leading provider of cut flowers in 2009, accounting for 75 percent of domestic flower production ($269 million out of $359 million at wholesale value) in those states. (The data pertain only to operations with sales greater than or equal to $100,000.)

Number of employees of the 107 greeting-card publishing establishments in 2008.

The number of cosmetics, beauty supplies and perfume stores nationwide in 2008. Perfume is a popular gift given on Mother’s Day.

Number of jewelry stores in the United States in 2008 — the place to purchase necklaces, earrings and other timeless pieces for mom.

    • Stay-at-Home Moms

5 million
Number of stay-at-home moms in 2010 — down from 5.1 million in 2009 and 5.3 million in 2008 (the estimates for 2010 and 2009 are not statistically different). In 2010, 23 percent of married-couple family groups with children under 15 had a stay-at-home mother, up from 21 percent in 2000. In 2007, before the recession, stay-at-home mothers were found in 24 percent of married-couple family groups with children under 15.

Compared with other moms, stay-at-home moms in 2007 were more likely to be:

    • Younger (44 percent were under 35 compared with 38 percent of mothers in the labor force).
    • Hispanic (27 percent compared with 16 percent of mothers in the labor force).
    • Foreign-born (34 percent compared with 19 percent of mothers in the labor force).
    • Living with a preschool-age child (57 percent compared with 43 percent of mothers in the labor force).
    • Without a high school diploma (19 percent versus 8 percent of mothers in the labor force).
    • Employed Moms (and Moms-to-Be)

The proportion of mothers with a recent birth who were in the labor force increased from 57 percent in 2006 to 61 percent in 2008. Among states with higher than average levels of new mothers who were unemployed, the highest proportions were in Alabama (10 percent) and Michigan (9 percent), along with several states in the southeast United States.

Number of child care centers across the country in 2008. These included 74,920 centers employing 884,235 workers and another 702,897 self-employed people or other businesses without paid employees. Many mothers turn to these centers to help juggle motherhood and careers.

    • Single Moms

9.9 million
The number of single mothers living with children younger than 18 in 2010, up from 3.4 million in 1970.

5.6 million
Number of custodial mothers who were due child support in 2007.

Of the 4 million women 15 to 44 years old who had a birth in the last year, 1.5 million (38 percent) were to women who were not married, who were separated, or married but with an absent spouse. Of those 1.5 million mothers, 425,000 (28 percent) were living with a cohabiting partner.

Scroll to Top