Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2009-2013. Employment and Work-related Risk Factor 8. Labor Force Participation of Women with Children Under 18

04/01/2013

Figure WORK 8. Labor Force Participation of Women with Children under 18: 1975-2009

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Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpublished tabulations from the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, March 2009 and earlier reports.

  • Figure WORK 8 shows the labor force participation rates for mothers with children under 18 years of age by marital status between 1975 and 2009. In 2007, 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 2009, 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 2009, 69.8 percent of married mothers with spouses present were in the labor force.
  • Table WORK 1 shows both the labor force participation rates and the employment rates of mothers with children less than 18 years of age between 1975 and 2009.
  • The employment rates for all mothers have increased over the time but plateaued in the early 2000’s and have declined slightly in recent years. The employment rate for married mothers with a spouse present was 40.5 percent in 1975; in 2009 the employment rate was 66.0 percent. The employment rate for divorced, widowed and separated mothers was 54.9 percent in 1975; in 2009 the employment rate was 70.3 percent. The employment rate for never- married mothers showed the largest increase from 32.1 percent in 1975 to 60.9 percent in 2009.

Table WORK 8. Employment Status of Women with Children under 18 Years of Age: 1975-2009

 
Labor Force Participation Rate (percent of population)
Employment Rate (percent of population)
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
2007 69.3 80.0 71.4 67.4 75.2 63.7
2008 69.4 79.3 71.0 67.1 74.6 62.9
2009 69.8 79.2 72.0 66.0 70.3 60.9

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, March 2009 and earlier reports.

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