In 2017, 5.8 percent of families included an unemployed person, down from 6.5 percent in 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Of the nation’s 82.0 million families, 80.5 percent had at least one employed member in 2017.
These data on employment, unemployment, and family relationships are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of about 60,000 households. Data in this release are annual averages. Families are classified either as married- couple families or as families maintained by women or men without spouses present.
Unless otherwise noted, families include those with and without children under age 18. For further information, see the Technical Note in this news release. Families and Unemployment The number of families with at least one member unemployed decreased by 557,000 to 4.7 million in 2017. The proportion of families with an unemployed person declined by 0.7 percentage point to 5.8 percent. In 2017, this proportion was down for White (5.2 percent), Black (9.5 percent), and Hispanic (7.7 percent) families and was little changed for Asian families (5.4 percent). Black and Hispanic families remained more likely to have an unemployed member in 2017 than White or Asian families. (See table 1.) Just over two-thirds (or 69.1 percent) of families with an unemployed member also had at least one family member who was employed in 2017. The proportion of families with an unemployed member that had at least one family member working full time grew to 60.5 percent in 2017. Black families with an unemployed member remained less likely to also have an employed family member (58.1 percent) than White (71.3 percent), Asian (84.0 percent), and Hispanic families (71.9 percent). (See table 1.) In 2017, 4.6 percent of married-couple families had an unemployed member, less than the corresponding percentages of families maintained by women or families maintained by men (9.0 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively). Among families with an unemployed family member, those maintained by women were less likely to also have an employed family member (49.8 percent) than families maintained by men and married-couple families (59.4 percent and 80.7 percent, respectively). (See tables 2 and 3.) Families and Employment In 2017, 80.5 percent of families had at least one employed family member, little different from the prior year. Over the year, the likelihood of having an employed family member was about unchanged among White (80.1 percent), Asian (88.6 percent), and Hispanic families (86.9 percent). The percentage of Black families having at least one family member employed increased by 0.9 percentage point to 78.7 percent in 2017, with a large increase in the share of Black families that had a family member employed full time. (See table 1.) In 2017, families maintained by women remained less likely to have an employed member (76.8 percent) than families maintained by men (84.6 percent) or married-couple families (81.0 percent). Among married-couple families, both the husband and wife were employed in 48.3 percent of families; in 19.1 percent of married-couple families only the husband was employed, and in 7.1 percent only the wife was employed. (See table 2.) Families with Children In 2017, 33.6 million families included children under age 18, about 41.0 percent of all families. (Children are sons, daughters, step-children, or adopted children living in the household who are under 18 years old. Not included are nieces, nephews, grandchildren, other related and unrelated children, and children not living in the household.) At least one parent was employed in 90.2 percent of families with children, an increase of 0.5 percentage point from the previous year. Among married-couple families with children, 96.9 percent had at least one employed parent, and 61.9 percent had both parents employed. Among families with children, 84.7 percent of fathers were employed in those maintained by fathers, a greater share than the 73.2 percent of mothers who were employed in families maintained by mothers. (See table 4.) Parents The labor force participation rate–the percent of the population working or looking for work–for all women with children under age 18 was 71.1 percent in 2017, up 0.6 percentage point from the prior year. Married mothers remained less likely to participate in the labor force, at 68.6 percent, than mothers with other marital statuses, at 76.5 percent. (Other marital status includes persons who are never married; widowed; divorced; separated; and married, spouse absent; as well as persons in same-sex marriages.) The unemployment rate for married mothers was also considerably lower than for mothers with other marital statuses–2.8 percent, compared with 7.3 percent. (See table 5.) Mothers with young children are less likely to be in the labor force than those with older children. In 2017, the labor force participation rate of mothers with children under 6 years old, at 65.1 percent, was lower than the rate of those whose youngest child was 6 to 17 years old, at 75.7 percent. Among mothers with children under 3 years old, the participation rate of married mothers was lower than the rate of mothers with other marital statuses– 60.0 percent versus 67.5 percent. The unemployment rate of mothers who were married and had children under 3 years old, at 2.6 percent, was substantially lower than the rate for their counterparts with other marital statuses, at 9.9 percent. (See tables 5 and 6.) In 2017, 92.8 percent of all fathers with children under age 18 participated in the labor force. The participation rate for married fathers, at 93.5 percent, continued to be higher than the rate of fathers with other marital statuses (88.1 percent). Married fathers also continued to have a lower unemployment rate (2.3 percent) than fathers with other marital statuses (5.8 percent). The jobless rate of fathers with other marital statuses declined by 1.2 percentage points from the previous year, and the jobless rate of married fathers decreased by 0.3 percentage point. (See table 5.) Employed fathers remained more likely to work full time than employed mothers in 2017; 95.7 percent of employed fathers worked full time, compared with 77.2 percent of employed mothers. Among employed mothers, those with older children were somewhat more likely to work full time than those with younger children. In 2017, 79.0 percent of employed mothers with children 6 to 17 years old worked full time, compared with 74.5 percent of mothers with children under 6 years old. Employed fathers with younger and older children were about equally likely to work full time. (See tables 5 and 6.)