August 16, 2019

Most Parents Are Working Hard to Provide for Their Children

Substantial majorities of parents in the United States are in the country’s labor force, and the percentage of parents who are working (or looking for work) is as high as before, during and after the Great Recession, according to the latest data.

Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Families in the Workforce

In 2017, 73% of children were living in U.S.-born families with all available parents in the labor force. (“All available parents” means both parents, if present, or a single parent when only one is present.) In that same year, 61% of children in immigrant families lived with all available parents in the labor force.

These figures have held remarkably steady over time. For children in U.S.-born families, 73% was a 10-year high; for every other year since 2008, the number was either 71% or 72%. For children in immigrant families, the share has hovered in a tight range between 60% and 62%.

Children With All Parents in the Labor Force by State

There is some variation among the states in these data. Not every state had sufficient numbers of children in immigrant families, but in those that did, Massachusetts (73%) had the highest percentage of children in immigrant families with all available parents in the labor force, followed by Hawaii and Maryland (both 71%). New Mexico had the lowest share (50%), followed by Alabama and Michigan (both 51%).

Interestingly, the five states where the figure for children in U.S.-born families with all available parents working is 80% or higher are contiguous in the Midwest — Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

View more Economic Well-Being Indicators on the KIDS COUNT Data Center