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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017

Secure Parental Employment

Secure parental employment is a major factor in the financial well-being of families.33 It is associated with higher family income and greater access to health insurance.37 It also has been linked to a number of positive outcomes for children, including better health, education, and social/emotional development.38 One measure of secure parental employment is the percentage of children whose resident parent or parents were employed full time throughout a given year.

Indicator ECON2: Percentage of children ages 0–17 living with at least one parent employed year round, full time by family structure, 1980–2015
Indicator ECON2: Percentage of children ages 0–17 living with at least one parent employed year round, full time by family structure, 1980–2015

NOTE: Year-round, full-time employment is defined as usually working full time (35 hours or more per week) for 50 to 52 weeks. The source of the calendar year 2013 data for this figure is the portion of the 2014 Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) sample that received income questions consistent with the 2013 CPS ASEC.

SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement.

  • The percentage of children who had at least one parent working year round, full time remained at 75 percent from 2014 to 2015.
  • About 77 percent of children ages 6–17 in 2015 had at least one parent working year round, full time and about 73 percent of children ages 0–5 years had at least one parent working similarly.
  • In 2015, about 88 percent of children living in families maintained by two married parents had at least one parent who worked year round, full time. In contrast, 63 percent of children living in families maintained by a single father and 46 percent of children living in families maintained by a single mother had a parent who worked year round, full time.
  • Among children living in families maintained by two married parents in 2015, about 33 percent lived in families where both parents worked year round, full time.
  • Among all children living with parents, those living in poverty were much less likely to have a parent working year round, full time than those living at or above the poverty threshold (30 percent and 86 percent, respectively, in 2015).
  • In families maintained by two married parents who were living below the poverty threshold in 2015, about 51 percent of children had at least one parent working year round, full time. Ninety-two percent of children in families maintained by two married parents who were living at or above the poverty threshold had at least one parent working year round, full time.
  • Black, non-Hispanic children and Hispanic children were less likely than White, non-Hispanic children to have a parent working year round, full time. In 2015, about 69 percent of Hispanic children and 62 percent of Black, non-Hispanic children lived in families with secure parental employment, compared with 81 percent of White, non-Hispanic children.

table icon ECON2 HTML Table

33 Following U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Statistical Policy Directive 14, poverty status is determined by comparing a family's (or an unrelated individual's) income to one of 48 dollar amounts called thresholds. The thresholds vary by the size of the family and the members' ages. In 2015, the poverty threshold for a family with two adults and two children was $24,036. For further details, see http://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/historical-poverty-thresholds.html

37 Child Trends. (2015). Secure parental employment. Retrieved from http://www.childtrends.org/indicators/secure-parental-employment

38 Cauthen, N. K. (2002). Policies that improve family income matter for children. Improving children's economic security: Research findings about increasing family income through employment Policy Brief No. 1. New York, NY: National Center for Children in Poverty. Retrieved from http://www.nccp.org/publications/pdf/text_480.pdf