Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2008. Employment and Work-related Risk Factor 8. Labor Force Participation of Women with Children Under 18

12/20/2008

Figure WORK 8.
Labor Force Participation of Women with Children under 18: 1975-2006

Figure WORK 8

Note:  The labor force participation rate includes all women who are employed, laid off or unemployed but looking for work. The employment rate includes only those women who are employed. The population of mothers with children under age 18 includes those 16 years of age and older.

Source:  U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpublished tabulations from the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 1976-2007.


  • Figure WORK 8 shows the labor force participation rates for mothers with children under 18 years of age by marital status between 1975 and 2006.  In 2006, regardless of marital status, the majority of mothers in the U.S. were engaged in the labor force. 
  • Historically, divorced, widowed and separated mothers have had the highest rates of labor force participation among mothers.  In 1975, 62.8 percent of divorced, widowed or separated mothers were in the labor force as compared to 44.9 percent of married mothers with spouses present and 42.2 percent of never-married mothers.  In 2006, divorced, widowed and separated mothers remained more likely than other mothers to participate in the labor force.
  • Between 1992 and 2002, labor force participation rates for never-married mothers with children under 18 markedly increased—rising from 52.5 percent in 1992 to 75.3 percent in 2002.  Since 1998, labor force participation rates for never-married mothers have exceeded the rates for married mothers.
  • The labor force participation rate of married mothers with children under 18 followed an upward trend from 1975 until 1997 when it peaked at 71.1 percent.  In 2006, 68.4 percent of married mothers with spouses present were in the labor force.
  • Table WORK 1 shows both the labor force participation rate and the employment rate of mothers with children under 18 years of age between 1975 and 2006.
  • The employment rate for all mothers increased over the time period.  The employment rate for married mothers with a spouse present was 40.5 percent in 1975; in 2006 the employment rate was 66.2 percent.  The employment rate for divorced, widowed and separated mothers was 54.9 percent in 1975; in 2006 the employment rate was 75.4 percent.  The employment rate for never- married mothers was to 32.1 percent in 1975; in 2006 the rate climbed to 62.5 percent.

Table WORK 8.
Employment Status of Women with Children under 18 Years of Age: 1975-2006

  Labor Force Participation Rate
(percent of population)
Employment Rate
(percent of population)
Notes:  The labor force participation rate includes all women who are employed, laid off or unemployed but looking for work. The employment rate includes only those women who are employed. The population of mothers with children under age 18 includes those 16 years of age and older.

Source:  U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpublished tabulations from the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 1976-2007.

Married, Spouse Present Divorced, Separated or Widowed Never Married Married, Spouse Present Divorced, Separated or Widowed Never Married
1975 44.9 62.8 42.2 40.5 54.9 32.1
1976 46.1 64.3 46.2 42.4 56.9 36.3
1977 48.2 66.4 43.4 44.6 58.7 29.6
1978 50.2 68.1 51.1 47.0 61.2 38.9
1979 51.9 67.8 54.4 48.6 61.4 42.6
1980 54.1 69.9 52.0 50.9 63.4 39.9
1981 55.7 70.5 52.3 52.1 63.0 38.3
1982 56.3 71.1 50.4 51.6 62.3 36.2
1983 57.2 70.1 49.8 52.4 58.5 34.5
1984 58.8 72.7 50.7 54.9 63.4 36.3
1985 60.8 72.9 51.6 56.8 64.0 39.3
1986 61.3 74.1 52.9 57.6 66.3 37.8
1987 63.8 74.0 54.1 60.4 66.5 40.2
1988 65.0 72.8 51.6 61.9 66.9 40.0
1989 65.6 72.0 54.7 63.1 66.0 43.1
1990 66.3 74.2 55.3 63.5 67.9 45.1
1991 66.8 72.7 53.6 63.2 66.1 44.0
1992 67.8 73.2 52.5 63.9 65.3 43.4
1993 67.5 72.1 54.4 64.2 65.9 44.0
1994 69.0 73.1 56.9 65.6 65.9 45.8
1995 70.2 75.3 57.5 67.1 69.1 47.9
1996 70.0 77.0 60.5 67.6 72.1 49.3
1997 71.1 79.1 68.1 68.6 72.0 56.6
1998 70.6 79.7 72.5 68.0 74.3 61.5
1999 70.1 80.4 73.4 68.0 75.4 64.8
2000 70.6 82.7 73.9 68.5 78.5 65.8
2001 70.4 83.1 73.5 68.0 78.7 64.6
2002 69.6 82.1 75.3 66.7 75.6 65.8
2003 69.2 82.0 73.1 66.3 74.7 63.2
2004 68.2 80.7 72.6 65.4 75.0 63.1
2005 68.1 79.8 72.9 66.0 74.4 62.0
2006 68.4 80.4 71.5 66.2 75.4 62.5

 

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