U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Working Mothers and Child Care

In 2008, 71.4 percent of women with children under 18 years of age were in the labor force (either employed or looking for work), and 67.5 percent were employed. Employment varied by a number of factors, including the age of the youngest child. Of mothers with children from birth through age 5, 64.0 percent were in the labor force and 59.5 percent were employed. Of women whose youngest child was aged 6–17 years, 77.3 percent were in the labor force and 73.8 percent were employed. Employed mothers with children birth to age five were more likely to be employed part time than mothers with older children (27.9 versus 22.2 percent, data not shown). Employment also varied by marital status: 69.5 percent of married mothers were in the labor force, compared to 76.0 percent of mothers of other marital statuses (data not shown).

In 2007, 54.2 percent of children from birth through age 5 were in childcare for 10 or more hours per week. Overall, 29.1 percent of children were in the care of a non-relative, while 14.7 percent were cared for by a relative and 10.4 percent received both relative and non-relative care. Childcare arrangements varied by household income: 32.4 percent of children living in households with incomes of 400 percent or more of the Federal poverty level ($20,650 for a family of four in 2007) did not receive 10 or more hours of childcare per week while the same was true of 57.8 percent of children with household incomes under 100 percent of the Federal poverty level.

Difficulty with childcare can affect the ability of parents to maintain steady employment. In 2007, approximately 37 percent of parents who needed child care in the past month reported that they had to change their arrangements because of circumstances beyond their control (such as a sick child or change in their provider’s schedule). Among all parents with children from birth through age five, 12.4 percent reported that childcare issues caused them to quit their job, pass a job offer, or greatly change their job because of problems with childcare (data not shown).

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