Going back to work a poor idea for single mums: study

SINGLE mothers earning a low income may be taking home just $3.44 per hour with their pay consumed by income tax, lost welfare benefits and childcare costs.

New research from the University of Canberra reveals how small the financial incentive can be to return to work after having a child.

It found a single mother being paid a low income would keep just $9.09 of her $16.37 hourly wage for working part time at 20 hours per week.

If she then went full time at 40 hours per week, those 20 extra hours would earn her an extra $3.44 per hour.

For a single parent on average wages, it would be closer to $10.20 an hour.

Principal research fellow Ben Phillips with the university's National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling said despite the small wages, there were other reasons mothers returned to work.

"I think in this day and age, if you're out of the labour force for three, four, five years or even longer, it doesn't look particularly good on your resume," Mr Phillips told ABC Radio.

Mr Phillips said on these calculations, childcare would be costing about $170 per day - rates charged near Sydney Harbour or in remote mining communities.

On average, this might be closer to $80 for a 10-hour day of care, or $50 per day in North Queensland, where daycare is cheapest.

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