Two-Thirds of Kids Under Age 6 Had All Available Parents in the Labor Force in 2018

Posted December 20, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Updates parentsinthelaborforce2018 2019

Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ty Sur­vey (ACS) fig­ures released this fall show that, for the first time in a decade, two-thirds (67%) of chil­dren in the Unit­ed States under age 6 had all avail­able par­ents in the labor force in 2018, leav­ing one-third of chil­dren (33%) with a par­ent who is choos­ing to stay at home or is oth­er­wise not avail­able to work.

The change in share (from 66% in 2017 to 67% in 2018) was not large, but it con­tin­ued a trend. This fig­ure was 64% in 2009, then 65% across a sev­en-year stretch before reach­ing 66% in 2017. Also, the num­ber of kids under age 6 with all avail­able par­ents in the work­force topped 15 mil­lion for the first time since 2012.

A par­ent is in the labor force” if an indi­vid­ual is employed or is unem­ployed but seek­ing work and avail­able for it. In addi­tion to stay-at-home par­ents, those not in the labor force” include stu­dents, peo­ple who have retired and peo­ple who can­not work due to ill­ness or dis­abil­i­ty. The ACS fig­ure counts chil­dren who live with the par­ent or par­ents in question.

In Delaware, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, Rhode Island, Ver­mont and Wyoming, the child pop­u­la­tions with these char­ac­ter­is­tics were too small to report. Among the oth­er states, the low­est per­cent­ages of chil­dren under age 6 with all avail­able par­ents in the labor force were seen in Utah (54%) and Ida­ho (56%), fol­lowed by New Mex­i­co and Texas (60%). The states with the largest shares were Iowa and Min­neso­ta (77%), fol­lowed by South Dako­ta (76%) and North Dako­ta (75%).

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