Young Kids and Parental Employment in 2017

Posted January 24, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Data on children under age 6 with no parent in the labor force by state

Accord­ing to 2017 data, 66% of the nation’s youngest chil­dren — more than 14.9 mil­lion kids under the age of 6 — are grow­ing up in fam­i­lies where all par­ents in their home are employed.

This means that 34% of young chil­dren have at least one unem­ployed par­ent at home. With­in this group, 8% of kids across the coun­try are liv­ing in homes where no par­ent is employed.

Nation­al­ly, these rates have remained rel­a­tive­ly sta­t­ic since 2008.

Unem­ploy­ment and low earn­ings can lim­it par­ents’ capac­i­ty to sup­port their child’s well-being. When these lim­i­ta­tions arise dur­ing the ear­li­est years of child­hood — a time of rapid cog­ni­tive, lin­guis­tic, social, emo­tion­al and motor devel­op­ment — they can under­mine the sol­id foun­da­tion that kids need to thrive.

At the state lev­el, the per­cent­age of young kids who are grow­ing up in a house­hold where no par­ent works dips to a low of 4% in Iowa (10,000 kids) and Min­neso­ta (15,000 kids) and climbs to a high of 17% in West Vir­ginia (18,000 kids). In Puer­to Rico, an Amer­i­can ter­ri­to­ry, 30% of chil­dren under the age of 6 (52,000) are grow­ing up in house­holds where no par­ent works.

The per­cent­age of young kids who are grow­ing up in a house­hold where all par­ents work also varies at the state lev­el. This sta­tis­tic drops to a low of 52% in Utah (154,000 kids) and reach­es a high of 75% in Iowa (172,000 kids), Min­neso­ta (312,000 kids) and Nebras­ka (115,000 kids).

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