Employment Patterns Among Persons with Children During the Recession

08/31/2010

 

ASPE RESEARCH BRIEF

Employment Patterns Among Persons with Children During the Recession[1]

August 2010

This Research Brief, written by ASPE analysts Kendall Swenson and Gilbert Crouse, analyzes quarterly data from the Current Population Survey, the nations primary data collection instrument for labor force activity.  Analyses of the employment patterns of persons with children under age 18 show that they have largely mirrored the employment patterns of the rest of the labor force during the recession, including a decrease in employment throughout 2008 and 2009.  Findings show an increase in the percent of couples with neither parent employed and an increase in the percent of single mothers who were neither employed nor living with an employed cohabiting partner.

This Research Brief is available on the internet at:http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/10/EmploymentPatterns/rb.shtml

Printer friendly version in PDF format (14 pages)Free PDF reader exit disclaimer

Contents

TablesNotes on MethodologyEndnotes

Summary

The employment patterns of persons with children under age 18 have largely mirrored the patterns of the nations labor force during the recession.  Between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009 the employment rates of parents decreased among most demographic groups.  During the same time period the percent of couples with children with both members employed decreased from 62.1 percent to 56.6 percent, and the percent of couples with children with neither person employed increased from 3.0 percent to 5.5 percent.

[ Go to Contents ]

Background

This Research Brief reports employment information tabulated from the nations primary data collection instrument on labor force activity, the Current Population Survey (CPS).  The primary population of interest is persons living with their own children under age 18.[2]  This population is important because lower levels of employment among parents generally correlate with increased levels of government transfers, material hardship, and poverty.

The methods used in this Research Brief to calculate unemployment rates are the same as those used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for its official publications. The unemployment rate is the percent of the labor force (those persons working or actively seeking and available for work) that is not employed.  The data in this Research Brief are not seasonally adjusted.  In order to avoid misinterpreting labor market characteristics impacted by seasonal variation, this Brief focuses on comparing the labor force in the fourth quarter of 2007, the beginning of the recession, with the labor force in the fourth quarter of 2009.[3]

[ Go to Contents ]

All Parents

Parents living with children under age 18 made up 35.9 percent of the civilian, non-institutional labor force in the fourth quarter of 2009.  Figure 1 shows that, in the aggregate, persons with children have lower rates of unemployment than persons without children (8.5 percent compared to 10.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009).

Figure 1. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of All Persons By Presence of Own children Percent of Labor Force

Figure 1. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of All Persons By Presence of Own children, Percent of Labor Force. See tables for data.

See appendix data tables for notes and sources.

Since the start of the recession, the labor force patterns of parents living with children under age 18 largely mirrored the patterns of the rest of the labor force.  Between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009, the unemployment rate of persons with children increased 4.7 percentage points from 3.8 percent to 8.5 percent, while the unemployment rate of non-parents in the labor force increased from 5.0 percent to 10.0 percent.

The unemployment rates of all of the parent populations shown in Figure 2 increased between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009, regardless of educational attainment.  Unemployment rates among those with higher levels of education were lower than the rates of parents with less education in 2008 and 2009.  For example, the unemployment rate of parents without a high school diploma or GED increased from 8.6 percent to 16.7 percent during this period.  At the same time, the unemployment rate of parents with a college degree or more increased from 1.7 percent to 4.1 percent.

Figure 2. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of All Parents By Educational AttainmentPercent of Labor Force

Figure 2. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of All Parents By Educational Attainment, Percent of Labor Force. See tables for data.

See appendix data tables for notes and sources.

Unemployment rates of persons living with children also varied by race and ethnicity.  The unemployment rates of Latinos, non-Latino Blacks, non-Latino Whites, and non-Latino Asians all increased between the last quarter of 2007 and the last quarter of 2009 (Figure 3).  The rates for non-Latino Whites and Non-Latino Asians remained lower than the rates for non-Latino Blacks and Latinos.

Figure 3. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of All Parents By Race & Ethnicity Percent of Labor Force

Figure 3. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of All Parents By Race & Ethnicity,Percent of Labor Force. See tables for data.

White, Black, and Asian categories are single race, non-Latino.See appendix data tables for notes and sources.

Figure 4 shows the percent of all parents who are employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force.  Expanding the denominator to include all parents (instead of restricting the denominator to persons in the labor force) provides a different examination of the data because younger parents are much more likely to be out of the labor force than the other age groups.  Between the fourth quarter in 2007 and the fourth quarter in 2009 the percent of parents employed decreased for all age groupings shown in Figure 4 except parents age 55 and older.  Rates of employment among this group of parents remained statistically unchanged.

Figure 4. Distribution of Parents by Age and Employment Status Employed

Figure 4. Distribution of Parents by Age and Employment Status, Employed. See tables for data.

Unemployed*

Figure 4. Distribution of Parents by Age and Employment Status, Unemployed. See tables for data.

Not in the Labor Force

Figure 4. Distribution of Parents by Age and Employment Status, Not in the Labor Force. See tables for data.

* Unlike the other figures in this research brief, these numbers are the percent of all parents that are unemployed, and include not only those parents in the labor force (i.e., those working or looking for work) but also those parents that are not currently looking for work.See appendix data tables for notes and sources.

[ Go to Contents ]

Mothers

Between the fourth quarter in 2007 and the fourth quarter in 2009 the unemployment rates among non-married mothers were higher than those of married mothers, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of Mothers By Living Arrangement Percent of Labor Force

Figure 5. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of Mothers By Living Arrangement, Percent of Labor Force. See tables for data.

See appendix data tables for notes and sources.

Throughout this time period, the unemployment rates of mothers living with cohabiting partners were closer to the rates of non-cohabiting, non-married mothers than to those of married mothers.  In the fourth quarter of 2009 the unemployment rate of single mothers living with cohabiting partners was more than double that of married mothers living with their spouses.

Figure 6 below shows the percent of all mothers who are employed, and for those mothers who are not employed, whether they live with a spouse or cohabiting partner who is employed.[4]

Between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009, the percent of mothers who were not employed and did not live with an employed spouse or cohabiting partner increased from 9.7 percent to 12.8 percent.  Thus, in the fourth quarter of 2009 about 87 percent (the sum of 65.2 and 22.0) of mothers either were employed themselves or lived with a spouse or cohabiting partner who was employed.

Figure 6. Percent Distribution of Mothers by Employment Status and Living Arrangement

Figure 6. Percent Distribution of Mothers by Employment Status and Living Arrangement. See tables for data.

See appendix data tables for notes and sources.

Single mothers are a population of interest among social scientists because previous research has confirmed that children living with unmarried mothers are more likely to experience material hardship than children living with married parents.  Figure 7 focuses only on single mothers who are not living with spouses.[5]  For those single mothers, it shows the percent who are employed and, for those single mothers who are not employed, whether they live with a cohabiting partner who is employed.  Between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009, the percent of single mothers who were neither employed nor living with an employed cohabiting partner increased from 24.6 percent to 30.2 percent.  Between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009 the percent of single mothers who were not employed but living with an employed cohabiting partner did not change statistically.

Figure 7.Figure 7. Percent Distribution of Single* Mothers by Employment Status and Living Arrangements. See tables for data.

* Single mothers in this figure refer to all mothers who do not have a spouse present.See appendix data tables for notes and sources.

[ Go to Contents ]

Fathers

The employment patterns of fathers generally mirror those of the rest of the labor force.  Between the fourth quarter in 2007 and the fourth quarter in 2009, the unemployment rate among non-married resident fathers[6] was higher than the rate of married fathers, as shown in Figure 8.  The average unemployment rate of non-married fathers living with cohabiting partners during this time period was higher than for non-married fathers not living with cohabiting partners.  Although the unemployment rate of all fathers was lower than the category of all mothers combined in the fourth quarter of 2009 (see Figure 5), the unemployment rate of married fathers was higher than the rate of married mothers (7.1 percent for fathers versus 6.1 percent for mothers).

Figure 8. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of Fathers By Living ArrangementsPercent of Labor Force

Figure 8. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of Fathers By Living Arrangements, Percent of Labor Force. See table for data.

See appendix data tables for notes and sources.

Figure 9 shows the percent of all fathers who are employed, and for those fathers who are not employed, whether they live with a spouse or cohabiting partner who is employed.  In the aggregate, over 9 in 10 fathers were either employed or living with a spouse or cohabiting partner that was employed in the fourth quarter of 2009.  However, the percent of fathers that were not employed and were not living with a spouse or cohabiting partner that was employed increased from 3.6 percent to 6.5 percent between the fourth quarter in 2007 and the fourth quarter in 2009.

Figure 9. Percent Distribution of Fathers by Employment Status and Living Arrangement

Figure 9. Percent Distribution of Fathers by Employment Status and Living Arrangement. See table for data.

See appendix data tables for notes and sources.

[ Go to Contents ]

Couples

Since mothers and fathers living together typically work collectively to provide for their children, it also is important to analyze their rates of employment as couples and not just as individuals. Figures 10 through 12 display the rates of employment of couples.[7]

Between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009, the percent of couples with children in which both parents were employed decreased from 62.1 percent to 56.6 percent.  During this same time period, the percent of couples with neither parent employed increased from 3.0 percent to 5.5 percent.  While the percent of couples with only the father employed stayed statistically unchanged during this time period, the percent of couples with only the mother employed increased from 5.2 percent to 8.1 percent.

Figure 10. Distribution of All Couples with Children By Spouse's Employment StatusPercent of Couples

Figure 10. Distribution of All Couples with Children By Spouse's Employment Status, Percent of Couples. See table for data.

See appendix data tables for notes and sources.

Figures 11 and 12 duplicate Figure 10 for married and cohabiting couples.  As shown in Figure 12, the percent of cohabiting couples with both parents employed decreased from 54.4 percent to 44.2 percent, while the percent with neither parent working increased from 5.7 percent to 14.0 percent of the population, between the fourth quarter in 2007 and the fourth quarter in 2009.

Figure 11. Distribution of Married Couples with Children By Spouse's Employment Status, Percent of Couples

Figure 11. Distribution of Married Couples with Children By Spouse's Employment Status, Percent of Couples. See table for data.

See appendix data tables for notes and sources.

Figure 12. Distribution of Cohabitating Couples with Children By Partners's Employment StatusPercent of Couples

Figure 12. Distribution of Cohabitating Couples with Children By Partners's Employment Status, Percent of Couples. See table for data.

See appendix data tables for notes and sources.

[ Go to Contents ]

Conclusion

Between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009, the percent of couples with both members employed decreased from 62.1 percent to 56.6 percent.  During this same time period, the percent of couples with neither parent employed increased from 3.0 to 5.5 percent.  The percent of couples with only the mother employed increased for both married and cohabiting couples with children.

Since the start of the recession, the labor force patterns of parents living with children under age 18 largely mirrored the patterns of the rest of the labor force.  Between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009, the unemployment rate of persons with children increased from 3.8 to 8.5 percent, while the unemployment rate of non-parents increased from 5.0 percent to 10.0 percent.

Between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2009, the percent of single mothers that were neither employed nor living with an employed cohabiting partner increased from 24.6 percent to 30.2 percent.  Therefore, in the fourth quarter of 2009, about 3 in 10 single mothers were not employed and did not live with employed cohabiting partners.

[ Go to Contents ]

Tables

Data for Figure 1. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of All Persons By Presence of Own Children
Year-quarter Total (000s) Employed (000s) Unemployed (000s) In Labor Force (000s) Unemployment Rate
  No Own Child in Unit
2007-4 164,785 93,188 4,883 98,071 5.0
2008-1 164,955 92,099 5,629 97,728 5.8
2008-2 165,337 92,921 5,761 98,682 5.8
2008-3 166,801 93,911 6,577 100,488 6.5
2008-4 166,839 92,091 6,991 99,082 7.1
2009-1 167,582 89,682 9,239 98,922 9.3
2009-2 167,675 89,798 9,779 99,577 9.8
2009-3 169,720 90,510 10,344 100,853 10.3
2009-4 170,092 89,236 9,941 99,177 10.0
  Parent with Own Child in Unit
2007-4 68,152 53,544 2,137 55,681 3.8
2008-1 67,852 52,656 2,438 55,094 4.4
2008-2 68,073 53,245 2,338 55,583 4.2
2008-3 67,309 52,117 2,793 54,911 5.1
2008-4 67,986 52,409 3,170 55,579 5.7
2009-1 67,330 50,443 4,295 54,738 7.8
2009-2 67,784 50,794 4,326 55,120 7.8
2009-3 66,372 49,560 4,510 54,070 8.3
2009-4 66,647 49,489 4,623 54,112 8.5
Data for Figure 6. Percent Distribution of Mothers by Employment Status and Living Arrangement
Year-quarter Total (000s) Employed (000s) Not Employed, Spouse/Partner Employed (000s) Not Employed, Spouse/Partner Not Employed (000s) Percent Employed Percent Not Employed, Spouse/Partner Employed Percent Not Employed, Spouse/Partner Not Employed
2007-4 36,975 25,152 8,247 3,576 68.0 22.3 9.7
2008-1 36,651 24,728 8,248 3,675 67.5 22.5 10.0
2008-2 36,861 25,148 8,117 3,595 68.2 22.0 9.8
2008-3 36,636 24,568 8,298 3,770 67.1 22.7 10.3
2008-4 36,898 24,867 8,022 4,009 67.4 21.7 10.9
2009-1 36,480 24,082 7,959 4,439 66.0 21.8 12.2
2009-2 36,738 24,247 8,041 4,450 66.0 21.9 12.1
2009-3 36,061 23,543 8,040 4,477 65.3 22.3 12.4
2009-4 36,293 23,671 7,967 4,656 65.2 22.0 12.8
Data for Figure 7. Percent Distribution of Single Mothers by Employment Status and Living Arrangement
Year-quarter Total (000s) Employed (000s) Not Employed, Spouse/Partner Employed (000s) Not Employed, Spouse/Partner Not Employed (000s) Percent Employed Percent Not Employed, Spouse/Partner Employed Percent Not Employed, Spouse/Partner Not Employed
2007-4 11,604 8,049 699 2,855 69.4 6.0 24.6
2008-1 11,471 7,919 725 2,826 69.0 6.3 24.6
2008-2 11,302 7,795 672 2,835 69.0 5.9 25.1
2008-3 11,441 7,734 710 2,997 67.6 6.2 26.2
2008-4 11,846 8,005 672 3,169 67.6 5.7 26.8
2009-1 11,519 7,645 596 3,278 66.4 5.2 28.5
2009-2 11,597 7,610 666 3,320 65.6 5.7 28.6
2009-3 11,384 7,314 684 3,386 64.2 6.0 29.7
2009-4 11,593 7,408 686 3,499 63.9 5.9 30.2
Data for Figure 2. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of All Parents By Educational Attainment
Year-quarter Total (000s) Employed (000s) Unemployed (000s) In Labor Force (000s) Percent Unemployed
  Less than HS
2007-4 8,896 5,619 531 6,150 8.6
2008-1 8,878 5,381 623 6,004 10.4
2008-2 8,884 5,535 587 6,121 9.6
2008-3 8,520 5,158 644 5,802 11.1
2008-4 8,616 5,178 729 5,906 12.4
2009-1 8,491 4,822 977 5,799 16.8
2009-2 8,799 5,083 930 6,012 15.5
2009-3 8,567 5,004 937 5,941 15.8
2009-4 8,471 4,802 964 5,766 16.7
  HS, no College
2007-4 20,032 15,306 800 16,106 5.0
2008-1 19,492 14,624 928 15,551 6.0
2008-2 19,305 14,632 801 15,433 5.2
2008-3 19,286 14,522 1,001 15,523 6.4
2008-4 19,683 14,663 1,159 15,822 7.3
2009-1 19,493 14,037 1,589 15,626 10.2
2009-2 19,153 13,731 1,551 15,282 10.1
2009-3 18,753 13,447 1,514 14,961 10.1
2009-4 18,527 13,103 1,609 14,712 10.9
  HS, Some College but no degree
2007-4 18,715 15,211 513 15,724 3.3
2008-1 18,633 14,936 599 15,535 3.9
2008-2 18,854 15,085 650 15,735 4.1
2008-3 18,656 14,836 714 15,550 4.6
2008-4 18,966 15,011 792 15,803 5.0
2009-1 18,724 14,363 1,091 15,453 7.1
2009-2 18,942 14,426 1,192 15,618 7.6
2009-3 18,475 14,039 1,243 15,282 8.1
2009-4 18,863 14,261 1,303 15,564 8.4
  Bachelors degree or more
2007-4 20,509 17,408 294 17,701 1.7
2008-1 20,850 17,716 289 18,004 1.6
2008-2 21,030 17,993 300 18,293 1.6
2008-3 20,847 17,600 435 18,036 2.4
2008-4 20,721 17,557 491 18,048 2.7
2009-1 20,622 17,221 639 17,859 3.6
2009-2 20,890 17,555 654 18,209 3.6
2009-3 20,578 17,070 816 17,886 4.6
2009-4 20,787 17,323 748 18,071 4.1
Data for Figure 3. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of All Parents By Race & Ethnicity
Year-quarter Total (000s) Employed (000s) Unemployed (000s) In Labor Force (000s) Percent Unemployed
  Not Latino, White Alone
2007-4 42,315 34,374 994 35,368 2.8
2008-1 42,141 33,892 1,212 35,104 3.5
2008-2 42,315 34,138 1,068 35,206 3.0
2008-3 41,699 33,333 1,336 34,669 3.9
2008-4 41,866 33,524 1,542 35,066 4.4
2009-1 41,758 32,571 2,148 34,720 6.2
2009-2 41,816 32,648 2,102 34,750 6.0
2009-3 40,904 31,817 2,243 34,059 6.6
2009-4 41,100 31,869 2,302 34,171 6.7
  Not Latino, Black Alone
2007-4 7,892 5,979 467 6,447 7.2
2008-1 7,782 5,805 494 6,299 7.8
2008-2 7,880 5,908 506 6,415 7.9
2008-3 7,843 5,807 648 6,455 10.0
2008-4 7,816 5,686 663 6,349 10.4
2009-1 7,584 5,334 776 6,110 12.7
2009-2 7,802 5,388 881 6,268 14.0
2009-3 7,579 5,274 852 6,126 13.9
2009-4 7,483 5,128 870 5,998 14.5
  Not Latino, Asian Alone
2007-4 3,534 2,697 89 2,786 3.2
2008-1 3,517 2,696 79 2,775 2.8
2008-2 3,585 2,829 87 2,915 3.0
2008-3 3,654 2,856 78 2,933 2.6
2008-4 3,659 2,809 109 2,919 3.7
2009-1 3,429 2,580 167 2,747 6.1
2009-2 3,562 2,705 186 2,891 6.4
2009-3 3,611 2,687 196 2,883 6.8
2009-4 3,617 2,692 199 2,891 6.9
  Not Latino, Other or 2+ races
2007-4 1,328 1,005 49 1,054 4.7
2008-1 1,354 957 73 1,030 7.1
2008-2 1,358 1,005 82 1,088 7.6
2008-3 1,286 915 76 991 7.6
2008-4 1,387 981 81 1,062 7.6
2009-1 1,374 919 111 1,030 10.8
2009-2 1,395 954 138 1,092 12.7
2009-3 1,330 911 131 1,042 12.6
2009-4 1,373 917 110 1,027 10.8
  Latino
2007-4 13,083 9,488 537 10,026 5.4
2008-1 13,059 9,307 580 9,887 5.9
2008-2 12,934 9,364 595 9,959 6.0
2008-3 12,826 9,206 656 9,862 6.7
2008-4 13,258 9,408 775 10,184 7.6
2009-1 13,184 9,038 1,093 10,132 10.8
2009-2 13,208 9,099 1,019 10,119 10.1
2009-3 12,950 8,871 1,089 9,959 10.9
2009-4 13,075 8,884 1,142 10,025 11.4
Data for Figure 4. Distribution of Parents by Age and Employment Status
Year-quarter Total Population (000s) Not In Labor Force (000s) Employed (000s) Unemployed (000s) Not In Labor Force (percent) Employed (percent) Unemployed (percent)**
  16 to 24 Years of Age
2007-4 3,977 1,381 2,300 296 34.7 57.8 7.4
2008-1 3,894 1,405 2,134 355 36.1 54.8 9.1
2008-2 3,878 1,303 2,204 370 33.6 56.8 9.5
2008-3 3,859 1,279 2,170 410 33.1 56.2 10.6
2008-4 3,917 1,374 2,189 354 35.1 55.9 9.0
2009-1 3,813 1,329 2,020 463 34.9 53.0 12.2
2009-2 3,807 1,327 1,983 497 34.9 52.1 13.1
2009-3 3,649 1,189 1,928 532 32.6 52.8 14.6
2009-4 3,711 1,318 1,923 469 35.5 51.8 12.6
  25 to 39 Years of Age
2007-4 33,288 6,348 25,851 1,089 19.1 77.7 3.3
2008-1 33,140 6,506 25,420 1,214 19.6 76.7 3.7
2008-2 33,339 6,420 25,735 1,184 19.3 77.2 3.6
2008-3 33,136 6,414 25,316 1,406 19.4 76.4 4.2
2008-4 33,118 6,204 25,216 1,698 18.7 76.1 5.1
2009-1 32,962 6,474 24,267 2,221 19.6 73.6 6.7
2009-2 33,191 6,496 24,377 2,318 19.6 73.4 7.0
2009-3 32,366 6,230 23,857 2,279 19.2 73.7 7.0
2009-4 32,575 6,346 23,837 2,392 19.5 73.2 7.3
  40 to 54 Years of Age
2007-4 28,300 4,027 23,570 703 14.2 83.3 2.5
2008-1 28,208 4,073 23,326 810 14.4 82.7 2.9
2008-2 28,198 4,038 23,440 720 14.3 83.1 2.6
2008-3 27,744 4,070 22,786 887 14.7 82.1 3.2
2008-4 28,232 4,133 23,069 1,030 14.6 81.7 3.6
2009-1 27,789 4,088 22,207 1,494 14.7 79.9 5.4
2009-2 28,026 4,176 22,448 1,402 14.9 80.1 5.0
2009-3 27,613 4,222 21,824 1,567 15.3 79.0 5.7
2009-4 27,650 4,216 21,819 1,616 15.2 78.9 5.8
  55 Years of Age and Older
2007-4 2,586 715 1,823 49 27.6 70.5 1.9
2008-1 2,610 774 1,776 59 29.7 68.1 2.3
2008-2 2,658 728 1,865 64 27.4 70.2 2.4
2008-3 2,570 636 1,845 89 24.7 71.8 3.5
2008-4 2,719 696 1,935 88 25.6 71.2 3.2
2009-1 2,767 701 1,949 117 25.3 70.4 4.2
2009-2 2,760 665 1,985 109 24.1 71.9 4.0
2009-3 2,746 662 1,951 133 24.1 71.1 4.8
2009-4 2,711 655 1,910 146 24.2 70.5 5.4
** The unemployment percentages shown in this figure compare employment levels to the entire civilian, non-institutional population, not just the labor force.
Data for Figure 5. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of Mothers By Living Arrangements
Year-quarter Total (000s) Employed (000s) Unemployed (000s) In Labor Force (000s) Unemployment Rate
  All Mothers
2007-4 37,361 25,386 1,255 26,642 4.7
2008-1 37,108 24,972 1,297 26,269 4.9
2008-2 37,359 25,402 1,320 26,722 4.9
2008-3 37,101 24,814 1,642 26,456 6.2
2008-4 37,391 25,139 1,722 26,861 6.4
2009-1 36,908 24,292 1,997 26,289 7.6
2009-2 37,237 24,475 2,108 26,583 7.9
2009-3 36,514 23,734 2,381 26,115 9.1
2009-4 36,716 23,849 2,326 26,175 8.9
  Married, Spouse Present
2007-4 25,750 17,331 555 17,886 3.1
2008-1 25,620 17,041 597 17,638 3.4
2008-2 26,045 17,597 562 18,159 3.1
2008-3 25,652 17,073 734 17,808 4.1
2008-4 25,533 17,127 798 17,926 4.5
2009-1 25,383 16,642 932 17,574 5.3
2009-2 25,630 16,858 974 17,832 5.5
2009-3 25,112 16,413 1,132 17,545 6.5
2009-4 25,108 16,433 1,068 17,500 6.1
  Not Married, Cohabiting
2007-4 2,409 1,566 111 1,677 6.6
2008-1 2,548 1,620 151 1,770 8.5
2008-2 2,423 1,576 139 1,714 8.1
2008-3 2,405 1,535 182 1,717 10.6
2008-4 2,505 1,616 166 1,783 9.3
2009-1 2,451 1,572 203 1,775 11.4
2009-2 2,485 1,536 202 1,738 11.6
2009-3 2,459 1,463 234 1,696 13.8
2009-4 2,490 1,462 261 1,723 15.1
  Not Married, Not Cohabiting
2007-4 9,202 6,490 589 7,079 8.3
2008-1 8,940 6,311 550 6,861 8.0
2008-2 8,891 6,229 619 6,849 9.0
2008-3 9,045 6,206 726 6,932 10.5
2008-4 9,353 6,395 757 7,152 10.6
2009-1 9,074 6,078 861 6,939 12.4
2009-2 9,121 6,080 932 7,012 13.3
2009-3 8,942 5,858 1,016 6,874 14.8
2009-4 9,117 5,955 998 6,952 14.3
Data for Figure 8. Quarterly Unemployment Rates of Fathers By Living Arrangements
Year-quarter Total (000s) Employed (000s) Unemployed (000s) In Labor Force (000s) Unemployment Rate
  All Fathers
2007-4 30,791 28,157 882 29,039 3.0
2008-1 30,743 27,684 1,140 28,824 4.0
2008-2 30,714 27,842 1,018 28,860 3.5
2008-3 30,208 27,304 1,151 28,455 4.0
2008-4 30,594 27,270 1,448 28,718 5.0
2009-1 30,422 26,151 2,298 28,449 8.1
2009-2 30,548 26,319 2,218 28,537 7.8
2009-3 29,859 25,826 2,129 27,955 7.6
2009-4 29,932 25,639 2,297 27,937 8.2
  Married, Spouse Present
2007-4 26,838 24,815 642 25,457 2.5
2008-1 26,682 24,390 814 25,203 3.2
2008-2 26,707 24,529 718 25,248 2.8
2008-3 26,311 24,117 823 24,940 3.3
2008-4 26,564 24,080 1,046 25,126 4.2
2009-1 26,453 23,267 1,707 24,974 6.8
2009-2 26,449 23,324 1,608 24,932 6.4
2009-3 25,864 22,839 1,594 24,434 6.5
2009-4 25,913 22,699 1,728 24,427 7.1
  Not Married, Cohabiting
2007-4 2,489 2,093 173 2,266 7.6
2008-1 2,614 2,137 242 2,379 10.2
2008-2 2,455 2,035 211 2,246 9.4
2008-3 2,464 2,031 226 2,257 10.0
2008-4 2,594 2,057 287 2,344 12.2
2009-1 2,528 1,830 426 2,257 18.9
2009-2 2,546 1,844 414 2,257 18.3
2009-3 2,512 1,864 372 2,235 16.6
2009-4 2,550 1,849 404 2,253 17.9
  Not Married, Not Cohabiting
2007-4 1,464 1,249 67 1,316 5.1
2008-1 1,448 1,157 85 1,242 6.8
2008-2 1,552 1,278 89 1,367 6.5
2008-3 1,434 1,155 103 1,258 8.2
2008-4 1,437 1,133 115 1,249 9.2
2009-1 1,441 1,054 165 1,219 13.5
2009-2 1,553 1,152 197 1,348 14.6
2009-3 1,482 1,123 163 1,286  12.7
2009-4 1,469 1,091 165 1,257 13.1
Data for Figure 9. Percent Distribution of Fathers by Employment Status and Living Arrangement
Year-quarter Total Population (000s) Employed (000s) Not Employed, Spouse/Partner Employed (000s) Not Employed, Spouse/Partner Not Employed (000s) Percent Employed Percent Not Employed, Spouse/Partner Employed Percent Not Employed, Spouse/Partner Not Employed
2007-4 30,747 28,124 1,516 1,108 91.5 4.9 3.6
2008-1 30,724 27,667 1,674 1,383 90.1 5.4 4.5
2008-2 30,678 27,820 1,616 1,242 90.7 5.3 4.0
2008-3 30,174 27,282 1,646 1,246 90.4 5.5 4.1
2008-4 30,568 27,252 1,901 1,414 89.2 6.2 4.6
2009-1 30,404 26,139 2,351 1,915 86.0 7.7 6.3
2009-2 30,525 26,305 2,348 1,872 86.2 7.7 6.1
2009-3 29,835 25,813 2,182 1,840 86.5 7.3 6.2
2009-4 29,903 25,623 2,329 1,951 85.7 7.8 6.5
Data for Figure 10. Distribution of All Couples with Children By Spouses Employment Status
Year-quarter Total (000s) Both Parents Employed (000s) Only Father is Employed (000s) Only Mother is Employed (000s) Neither Parent is Employed (000s) Percent Both Parents Employed Percent Only Father is Employed Percent Only Mother is Employed Percent Neither Parent is Employed
2007-4 28,558 17,747 8,470 1,471 870 62.1 29.7 5.2 3.0
2008-1 28,534 17,321 8,520 1,630 1,062 60.7 29.9 5.7 3.7
2008-2 28,556 17,685 8,338 1,591 943 61.9 29.2 5.6 3.3
2008-3 28,142 17,073 8,509 1,612 949 60.7 30.2 5.7 3.4
2008-4 28,388 17,116 8,339 1,848 1,085 60.3 29.4 6.5 3.8
2009-1 28,260 16,201 8,262 2,308 1,488 57.3 29.2 8.2 5.3
2009-2 28,310 16,272 8,317 2,292 1,428 57.5 29.4 8.1 5.0
2009-3 27,750 15,855 8,332 2,127 1,436 57.1 30.0 7.7 5.2
2009-4 27,817 15,754 8,261 2,266 1,535 56.6 29.7 8.1 5.5
Data for Figure 11. Distribution of Married Couples with Children By Spouses Employment Status
Year-quarter Total (000s) Both Parents Employed (000s) Only Father is Employed (000s) Only Mother is Employed (000s) Neither Parent is Employed (000s) Percent Both Parents Employed Percent Only Father is Employed Percent Only Mother is Employed Percent Neither Parent is Employed
2007-4 26,184 16,456 7,761 1,233 733 62.8 29.6 4.7 2.8
2008-1 26,029 16,012 7,784 1,364 869 61.5 29.9 5.2 3.3
2008-2 26,195 16,404 7,655 1,365 771 62.6 29.2 5.2 2.9
2008-3 25,800 15,859 7,796 1,355 790 61.5 30.2 5.3 3.1
2008-4 25,906 15,837 7,656 1,540 872 61.1 29.6 5.9 3.4
2009-1 25,824 15,041 7,660 1,925 1,198 58.2 29.7 7.5 4.6
2009-2 25,876 15,178 7,644 1,903 1,150 58.7 29.5 7.4 4.4
2009-3 25,358 14,767 7,643 1,810 1,138 58.2 30.1 7.1 4.5
2009-4 25,384 14,680 7,574 1,935 1,196 57.8 29.8 7.6 4.7
Data for Figure 12. Distribution of Cohabiting Couples with Children By Spouses Employment Status
Year-quarter Total (000s) Both Parents Employed (000s) Only Father is Employed (000s) Only Mother is Employed (000s) Neither Parent is Employed (000s) Percent Both Parents Employed Percent Only Father is Employed Percent Only Mother is Employed Percent Neither Parent is Employed
2007-4 2,374 1,291 709 238 136 54.4 29.9 10.0 5.7
2008-1 2,505 1,309 736 266 193 52.3 29.4 10.6 7.7
2008-2 2,361 1,281 683 226 172 54.2 28.9 9.6 7.3
2008-3 2,342 1,214 713 257 159 51.8 30.4 10.9 6.8
2008-4 2,483 1,279 682 308 212 51.5 27.5 12.4 8.5
2009-1 2,435 1,160 602 383 290 47.6 24.7 15.7 11.9
2009-2 2,433 1,093 673 389 278 44.9 27.7 16.0 11.4
2009-3 2,392 1,087 690 317 299 45.5 28.8 13.2 12.5
2009-4 2,433 1,075 687 332 340 44.2 28.3 13.6 14.0

[ Go to Contents ]

Notes on Methodology

This Research Brief report is based on ASPE tabulations of public use data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), which is the nations primary data collection instrument for measurements of employment and unemployment rates in the United States.[8]  The CPS is administered by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, and collects data from about 60,000 occupied households each month using a nationally representative probability design.  Many of the questions on the survey refer to labor force participation during the week that includes the 12th day of each month.  Persons included in the survey do not have to be citizens of the United States, but must reside in the country.

Once a year, the CPS expands the list of income and demographic questions that it asks its respondents and creates a supplemental dataset called the CPS-Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS-ASEC).  The ASEC was formerly called the March Supplement.  This supplement is used by various organizations to report rates of poverty and health insurance coverage, and data about household incomes.  Historically, it also was the primary CPS-based data source to compare employment and labor force participation between persons with children and those without children. However, since 2004 the publicly available data from the Basic Monthly CPS has been expanded to allow the identification of parents who live with their own children under age 18.  Tabulations of employment and unemployment rates isolating parents are available on a monthly basis from 2004 to the present using the public CPS Basic Monthly files, and also are available on an annual basis through the use of the CPS-ASEC once-a-year supplement.  This Research Brief exclusively uses the Basic-Monthly CPS because its information reflects a more current reporting period.

This Research Brief includes the same universe analyzed by the BLS for its calculations of unemployment statistics.  Using this methodology, the following populations are excluded from all of the tabulations:

  • Institutionalized persons (e.g., persons in prisons, long-term care hospitals, and nursing homes)
  • Persons living outside of the United States or living in military housing
  • Persons age 15 and younger

The methods used in this Research Brief to calculate unemployment rates are the same as those used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for its official publications.  The unemployment rate is the percent of the labor force (those persons working or actively seeking and available for work) that is employed.  In general, the labor force includes persons who are either working or looking for work.  However, persons on layoff from a job and expecting recall also are included in the labor force even when they are not seeking other employment.  Examples of persons excluded from the labor force for unemployment rate calculations include persons who cannot work, do not want to work, or are not actively looking for employment because they are discouraged about their job prospects.  Therefore, unemployed persons are a subset of a larger population that is not employed.

Some of the subpopulations examined in this Research Brief consist of relatively small monthly sample sizes in the CPS.  Therefore, the Research Brief averages three months of data together for all estimates to reduce sampling error across time. Each calculation is performed independently for each month, and the statistic reported (for example, unemployment rates) is computed by averaging three months of data to present 3-month quarterly averages.  No estimate presented in this Research Brief is adjusted for seasonality, and care should be exercised when comparing different quarters of data throughout the year.  Quarters refer to calendar year quarters, not fiscal year quarters.

Although a majority of the couples presented in the figures are opposite-sex couples the data are able to distinguish them from couples who are same-sex couples. Overall, same-sex couples comprise less than 0.1 percent of the couples with children in the CPS; this produces a sample size too small for separate tabulations of this group. Same-sex couples are excluded from Figures 10-12 in order to highlight differences by gender, but are included in Figures 1-9.

Some persons are included in BLSs labor force tabulations but live with spouses or partners who are excluded.  These persons are included in figures 1-5 and 8 but are excluded in figures 6, 7, and 9.  Couples containing one or more persons who are excluded from BLS labor force tabulations are excluded in figures 10-12.  For example, a person age 17 who is living with a cohabiting partner that is age 15 would be included in the population examined for Figures 1-5 and 8, but would be excluded in Figures 6, 7, 9, and 10-12.  In this case, the person age 15 would be excluded from the labor force universe because the minimum age for inclusion in the labor force is 16.  Another example is a couple that consists of one civilian adult and one adult in the Armed Services.  Like the previous example, this couple would be included in the population examined for Figures 1-5 and 8, but is excluded in Figures 6, 7, 9, and 10-12.  The exclusion of mixed couples with only one person included in the labor force universe means that the populations will not sum perfectly across some of the data tables.  For example, the number of married couples with children in Figure 11 is slightly lower than the number of married fathers in Figure 8.[9]

The definition of parent used for the estimates presented here includes only those parents who are living with their own children under age 18, or those living with a cohabiting partner with his or her own children under age 18.  This includes parents of biological and adopted children, but excludes parents of foster children and other relatives of children taking on informal parenting responsibilities.  Thus, a person living with her granddaughter would not be identified as a parent, even though she may be providing parental care for the child.  In addition, parents of children age 18 and older also are excluded, even when they are providing significant financial support to these adult children.  Finally, non-resident parents, even those supporting dependents with child support payments or claiming the children for tax reporting purposes, are excluded from the parental universe in this Research Brief if they are not living with at least one of their own children.

The Research Brief identifies couples with children under age 18 for Figures 10-12 if either person in the couple is living with his or her own child, including adopted children.  The numbers may not add to 100 percent because of rounding.  All comparisons made in the text of this Research Brief are statistically significant at p < .05.  Standard errors can be approximated for all numbers shown.  For more information on how standard errors can be approximated for comparisons not mentioned in the text, visit the BLS Technical Documentation Internet pages at http://www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm.

[ Go to Contents ]

Endnotes

[1] The authors would like to thank Mary Bowler, Gene Falk, Peter Horner, and Rose Kreider for providing thoughtful comments on an earlier draft of this Research Brief.

[2] Unless noted otherwise, the term parents refers to persons living with their own children under age 18, including biological, adopted, and step children.

[3] All comparisons cited in the text of this Research Brief are statistically significant at a 95% confidence level.

[4] Unlike the figures showing unemployment rates, the employment percentages shown in Figures 5 and 6 compare employment levels to the entire civilian, non-institutional population, not just the labor force.

[5] Some of these women are separated or married, but not living with their spouses.

[6] The data exclude fathers that are not living with their children.

[7] Unlike the figures showing unemployment rates, the employment percentages shown in these figures compare employment levels to the entire civilian, non-institutional population, not just the labor force.

[8] http://www.bls.gov/cps

[9] Another reason why the number of married couples will not be exactly equal to the number of married individuals is that, unlike the annual CPS-ASEC supplement (i.e., the March Supplement), the Basic Monthly CPS does not post-stratify in a manner that gives two persons in a married couple the exact same population weight.  For this analysis, couples are assigned the weight of the household or family reference person.

[ Go to Contents ]

Preview
Download

"rb.pdf" (pdf, 389.44Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®