Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. ES 3.2 Maternal employment

04/01/1997

Over the last several decades, the increasing proportion of mothers moving into employment has had substantial consequences for the everyday lives of families with children. Maternal employment adds to the financial resources available to families, and is often the only source of income for families headed by single mothers although if child care services are purchased and unsubsidized, they may offset a substantial percentage of low-wage mothers' earnings.

Maternal employment rates for all mothers with children under age 18 increased steadily from 53 percent to 63 percent between 1980 and 1990 (see Figure ES 3.2.A). From 1990 to 1995, rates increased at a slower pace from 63 percent to 66 percent. This pattern of increasing maternal employment was evident for all mothers, regardless of the age of their children.

Differences by Age of Child. The percentage of mothers who are employed increases with the age of the youngest child for all time periods presented in Table ES 3.2.A. In 1995, 54 percent of mothers with children under age 3 were employed, compared to 62 percent and 73 percent for mothers with youngest children ages 3-5 and 6-17, respectively.

Differences by Race and Ethnicity. In 1995, 67 percent of white mothers, 62 percent of black mothers, and 49 percent of Hispanic mothers were employed (see Table ES 3.2.A). Black mothers were the most likely to be employed full-time (50 percent). Although all three groups substantially increased their rates of employment between 1980 and 1990, only white mothers continued to increase their rate of employment substantially between 1990 and 1995.

Differences by Marital Status. Throughout the period between 1988 and 1995, divorced mothers had higher rates of employment than never-married or currently married mothers. Employment increased from 62 percent to 67 percent for married mothers, from 40 to 48 percent for never-married mothers, and from 75 to 77 percent for divorced mothers.

Full-Time Versus Part-Time Employment. As shown in Figure ES 3.2.B, among all employed mothers, 70 percent were working full time in 1995. Employed mothers with older children were more likely to work full time than those with young children, with rates ranging from 65 percent for mothers with children under age 3, to 73 percent for mothers with a youngest child between the ages of 6 and 17. Divorced mothers were more likely to work full time (83 percent) than never-married mothers (72 percent) and married mothers (68 percent). Black mothers who were employed were more likely to work full time (82 percent) than white mothers (68 percent).
 

Figure ES 3.2.A  
Percentage of Mothers Who Are Employed, by Age of Youngest Child: 1980-1995 
FIG3_2A.GIF
 
Note: Percentages for 1980 are not presented separately by marital status and full-time vs. part-time due to incompatibilities with definitions used in later years. Sums may not add to totals due to rounding. Source: Unpublished tables, Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on analyses of March Current Population Surveys for 1980, 1988, 1990, 1994, and 1995 

 

Figure ES 3.2.B  
Percentage of Employed Mothers Who Worked Full Time, 1995 

FIG3_2B.GIF
 
 
Source: Unpublished tables, Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on analysis of March Current Population Survey for 1995. 

 

Table ES 3.2.A 
Maternal Employment: Percentage of Mothers with Children Under Age 18 Who were Employed, Full Time and Part Time,a 1980-1995

 
1980 
1988 
1990 
1994 
1995 
______ 
______ 
______ 
______ 
______ 
Total Employed
53 
60 
63 
64 
66 
 
Working Full Time 
-- 
44 
46 
45 
46 
 
Working Part Time 
-- 
16 
17 
19 
19 
 
Age of Youngest Child
< Age 3 Employed
37 
47 
50 
52 
54 
  Working Full Time
-- 
32 
34 
34 
35 
  Working Part Time
-- 
15 
16 
18 
19 
 
Ages 3-5 Employed
50 
57 
61 
60 
62 
  Working Full Time
-- 
40 
43 
41 
42 
  Working Part Time
-- 
17 
18 
19 
20 
 
Ages 6-17 Employed
60 
70 
70 
72 
73 
  Working Full Time
-- 
53 
53 
53 
53 
  Working Part Time
-- 
17 
17 
19 
19 
 
Marital Status
Married, Spouse Present Employed
-- 
62 
63 
66 
67 
  Working Full Time
-- 
43 
44 
45 
45 
  Working Part Time
-- 
19 
19 
21 
22 
 
Never Married Employed 

 

-- 
40 
45 
46 
48 
  Working Full Time
-- 
32 
36 
34 
35 
  Working Part Time
-- 
12 
13 
 
Divorced Employed
-- 
75 
75 
74 
77 
  Working Full Time
-- 
66 
66 
63 
64 
  Working Part Time
-- 
11 
13 
 
Race/Ethnicity
White Employed
52 
62 
63 
65 
67 
  Working Full Time
-- 
44 
44 
45 
46 
  Working Part Time
-- 
18 
19 
20 
21 
 
Black Employed
54 
56 
61 
58 
62 
  Working Full Time
-- 
48 
53 
47 
50 
  Working Part Time
-- 
11 
11 
 
Hispanic Employed
42 
49 
50 
48 
49 
  Working Full Time
-- 
38 
39 
36 
37 
  Working Part Time
-- 
11 
11 
12 
12 
 
Note: aPercentages for 1980 are not presented separately by marital status and full-time vs. part-time due to incompatibilities with definitions used in later years. Sums may not add to totals due to rounding.
Source: Unpublished tables, Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on analyses of March Current Population Surveys for 1980, 1988, 1990, 1994, and 1995.

 

Table ES 3.2.B 
Number and Percentage of Employed Mothers Who Worked Full Time, 1995

 
   
Full time (thousands) 
Part time (thousands) 
Total 
(thousands)
 
  Percentage   
Full time
 
   
   
________ 
________ 
________ 
________ 
 
All mothers
16,349 
6,846 
23,195 
70 
 
Age of youngest child
  < age 3
3,385 
1,787 
5,172 
65 
  3-5
2,982 
1,433 
4,415 
68 
  6-17
9,982 
3,626 
13,608 
73 
Marital status
  Married
11,642 
5,553 
17,195 
68 
  Never married
1,267 
487 
1,754 
72 
  Divorced
2,340 
477 
2,817 
83 
 
Race/ethnicity group
  White
13,010 
6,040 
19,050 
68 
  Black
2,552 
567 
3,119 
82 
  Hispanic
1,621 
506 
2,127 
76 
 
Source: Unpublished Tables, Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on analysis of March Current Population Survey for 1995.

 

 

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