Abstract Using the National Survey of Family Growth, we document nonmetropolitan and metropolitan single mothers' economic livelihood strategies. We have three objectives: (1) examine differences in employment, cohabitation, co-residence with other adults, and welfare receipt; (2) evaluate how these livelihood strategies are associated with economic well-being; and (3) identify key metro-nonmetro differences in the effectiveness of these livelihood strategies in improving the economic well-being of single mothers. We find surprisingly similar livelihood strategies in nonmetropolitan and metropolitan areas. Employment, cohabitation, and co-residence are strongly associated with economic well-being. However, nonmetro single mothers are less likely than metropolitan mothers to benefit economically from full-time employment. Given our results, “work-first” policies are likely to be less efficacious in nonmetropolitan areas. Indeed, nonmetropolitan single mothers are often “triply disadvantaged” compared to their metro counterparts; they experience higher rates of poverty, higher barriers to welfare receipt, and lower economic returns from other livelihood strategies.