December 20, 2019

Two-Thirds of Kids Under Age 6 Have All Available Parents in the Labor Force

American Community Survey (ACS) figures released this fall show that, for the first time in a decade, two-thirds (67%) of children in the United States under age 6 had all available parents in the labor force in 2018, leaving one-third of children (33%) with a parent who is choosing to stay at home or is otherwise not available to work.

The change in share (from 66% in 2017 to 67% in 2018) was not large, but it continued a trend. This figure was 64% in 2009, then 65% across a seven-year stretch before reaching 66% in 2017. Also, the number of kids under age 6 with all available parents in the workforce topped 15 million for the first time since 2012.

A parent is “in the labor force” if an individual is employed or is unemployed but seeking work and available for it. In addition to stay-at-home parents, those “not in the labor force” include students, people who have retired and people who cannot work due to illness or disability. The ACS figure counts children who live with the parent or parents in question.

In Delaware, the District of Columbia, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming, the child populations with these characteristics were too small to report. Among the other states, the lowest percentages of children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force were seen in Utah (54%) and Idaho (56%), followed by New Mexico and Texas (60%). The states with the largest shares were Iowa and Minnesota (77%), followed by South Dakota (76%) and North Dakota (75%).