Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors: Thirteenth Report to Congress. Employment and Work-related Risk Factor 7. Labor Force Participation of Women with Children Under 18

03/01/2014

Figure WORK 7. Labor Force Participation of Women with Children under 18: 1975-2011

(In percent)

Figure WORK 7. Labor Force Participation of Women with Children under 18: 1975-2011

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Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpublished tabulations from the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, March 2011 and earlier reports.


  • Figure WORK 7 shows the labor force participation rates for mothers with children under 18 years of age by marital status between 1975 and 2011. In 2011, regardless of marital status, the majority of mothers in the U.S. were engaged in the labor force.
  • Between 1975 and 2011, labor force participation rates for never-married mothers with children under 18 markedly increased—rising from 42.2 percent in 1975 to 70.0 percent in 2011.
  • 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, rising to 79.8 percent in 2011.
  • The labor force participation rate of married mothers with children under 18 also has followed an upward trend increasing from 44.9 percent in 1975 to 69.1 percent in 2011.
  • Table WORK 7 shows both the labor force participation rate and the employment rate of mothers with children under 18 years of age between 1975 and 2011.
  • The employment rate for all mothers increased over the time period up until 2000 and has since reached a plateau. In 2011, the employment rate for married mothers with a spouse present was 65.0 percent, the employment rate for divorced, widowed and separated mothers was 70.3 percent, and the employment rate for never- married mothers was 56.8 percent.

Table WORK 7. Employment Status of Women with Children under 18 Years of Age: 1975-2011

  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
2010 69.7 79.2 70.1 65.3 70.4 57.4
2011 69.1 79.8 70.0 65.0 70.3 56.8

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 2011 and earlier reports.

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