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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Secure Parental Employment

Secure parental employment reduces the incidence of poverty and its attendant risks to children. Secure parental employment is associated with higher family income and greater access to private health insurance.35 By reducing stress and other negative effects that low levels of family income have on parents, secure parental employment may also enhance children's social and emotional development and improve family functioning.36 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, 1980–2011
Percentage of children ages 0–17 living with at least one parent employed year round, full time by family structure, 1980–2011

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

  • The percentage of children who had at least one parent working year round, full time increased to 73 percent in 2011, from 71 percent in 2010.
  • In 2011, about 86 percent of children living in families maintained by two married parents had at least one parent who worked year round, full time. In contrast, 62 percent of children living in families maintained by a single father and 41 percent of children living in families maintained by a single mother had a parent who 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 line (27 and 85 percent, respectively, in 2011).
  • In 2011, about 48 percent of children living in families maintained by two married parents who were living below the poverty line had at least one parent working year round, full time, compared with 90 percent of children living at or above the poverty line.
  • Black, non-Hispanic children and Hispanic children were less likely than White, non-Hispanic children to have a parent working year round, full time. About 65 percent of Hispanic children and 56 percent of Black, non-Hispanic children lived in families with secure parental employment in 2011, compared with 79 percent of White, non-Hispanic children.

table icon ECON2 HTML Table

35 Child Trends. (2010). Secure parental employment. Retrieved from http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/?q=node/192.

36 Yeung, W.J., Linver, M.R., and Brooks-Gunn, J. (November/December 2002). How money matters for children's development: Parental investment and family processes. Child Development 73(6):1861–1879.