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Economic News Release
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Employment Characteristics of Families Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Wednesday, April 21, 2021 		            USDL-21-0695

Technical information:  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps 
Media contact:          (202) 691-5902   *  PressOffice@bls.gov


		     EMPLOYMENT CHARACTERISTICS OF FAMILIES -- 2020


In 2020, 9.8 percent of families included an unemployed person, twice the figure of 4.9
percent in 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The increase in
unemployment among families reflects the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
on the labor market. Of the nation's 83.1 million families, 78.2 percent had at least
one employed member in 2020. 

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 news 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 increased by 4.0 million to
8.1 million in 2020. The proportion of families with an unemployed person, at 9.8 
percent, doubled from the previous year, when it was 4.9 percent. In 2020, the 
proportion of families with an unemployed person increased for White (9.0 percent of
families), Black (13.4 percent), Asian (10.9 percent), and Hispanic (14.3 percent) 
families. White families were the least likely to have an unemployed member, and 
Hispanic families were the most likely. In 2019, by contrast, Asian families were the 
least likely to have an unemployed person, and Black families were the most likely. 
(See table 1.)

In 2020, among families with an unemployed member, 67.6 percent also had at least one
family member employed, down from 71.3 percent in the prior year. The proportion of 
families with an unemployed member that had at least one family member working full 
time fell by 2.5 percentage points to 59.9 percent in 2020. Among families with an 
unemployed member, Black families remained less likely to also have at least one family
member who was working (57.1 percent) than White (69.9 percent), Asian (71.6 percent),
and Hispanic (67.7 percent) families. (See table 1.)

In 2020, 8.6 percent of married-couple families had an unemployed member, less than the
corresponding percentages of families maintained by women or families maintained by men
(12.7 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively). Among families with an unemployed member,
those maintained by women remained less likely to also have an employed family member 
(49.9 percent) than families maintained by men and married-couple families (55.0 percent
and 76.2 percent, respectively). (See tables 2 and 3.)

Families and Employment

In 2020, 78.2 percent of families had at least one employed family member, down from 
81.2 percent in the prior year. From 2019 to 2020, the likelihood of having an employed 
family member decreased for White (78.0 percent of families), Black (75.7 percent), 
Asian (84.7 percent), and Hispanic (84.1 percent) families. (See table 1.)

Families maintained by women remained less likely to have an employed member (74.8 
percent) in 2020 than families maintained by men (81.1 percent) or married-couple 
families (78.7 percent). Among married-couple families, both spouses were employed in 
45.5 percent of families, down from 49.7 percent in the prior year. In 2020, only one 
spouse was employed in 31.3 percent of married-couple families, up from 29.8 percent in
2019. (See table 2.)

Families with Children

In 2020, 33.0 million families, or two-fifths of all families, included children under
age 18. (Children are sons, daughters, step-children, or adopted children living in the
household who are under age 18. 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 88.5 percent of families with children, down from 91.4 percent
in the previous year. Among married-couple families with children, 95.3 percent had at
least one employed parent in 2020, and 59.8 percent had both parents employed. Among 
families maintained by fathers, 79.6 percent of fathers were employed, a greater share
than the 71.0 percent of mothers who were employed in families maintained by mothers.
(See tables 1 and 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 71.2 percent in 2020, down from
72.3 percent in the prior year. The participation rate for fathers with children under
age 18, at 92.3 percent in 2020, also declined from the previous year (93.3 percent). 
This decline in labor force participation among parents, especially mothers, likely 
reflects not only pandemic-related job losses, but also the shift of many schools to 
distance learning and the temporary closure of many childcare facilities during the
pandemic. (See table 5.)

Participation rates declined from the prior year for married mothers and fathers, and 
for mothers and fathers with other marital statuses. Married mothers remained less 
likely to participate in the labor force in 2020, at 69.2 percent, than mothers with 
other marital statuses (75.9 percent). In contrast, married fathers remained more 
likely to participate in the labor force (93.3 percent) than fathers with other marital
statuses (86.3 percent). (Other marital status includes persons who are never married;
widowed; divorced; separated; and married, spouse absent.) (See table 5.)

In 2020, mothers of older children remained more likely to participate in the labor 
force than mothers with younger children. The participation rate for mothers with
children under age 6, at 65.8 percent, was lower than that of mothers whose youngest 
child was age 6 to 17, at 75.4 percent. By comparison, fathers with children under age
6 were more likely to participate in the labor force than those whose youngest child 
was age 6 to 17 (93.4 percent versus 91.4 percent). (See table 5.)

In 2020, the unemployment rate for mothers increased by 4.0 percentage points from the
prior year to 7.5 percent, and the rate for fathers increased by 3.4 percentage points
to 5.6 percent. The unemployment rate for married mothers remained considerably lower 
than for mothers with other marital statuses--6.1 percent, compared with 10.4 percent.
Married fathers also continued to have a lower unemployment rate, at 4.8 percent, than
fathers with other marital statuses, at 10.6 percent. Among mothers who had children 
under age 3, the unemployment rate of mothers who were married was less than half that
of those with other marital statuses (6.1 percent versus 12.8 percent). (See tables 5 
and 6.) 

Employed fathers remained more likely to work full time in 2020 than employed mothers;
95.6 percent of employed fathers worked full time, compared with 79.7 percent of 
employed mothers. The likelihood of working full time declined by 0.5 percentage point
from the previous year for employed fathers, while it increased by 1.2 percentage 
points over the year for employed mothers. The increase in the percentage of working 
mothers who were employed full time from 2019 to 2020 reflects the nature of pandemic-
related job losses in 2020, which were disproportionately large among mothers who 
worked part time. 

Among employed mothers, those with older children remained more likely to work full 
time than those with younger children. In 2020, 81.2 percent of employed mothers with
children ages 6 to 17 worked full time, compared with 77.5 percent of mothers with 
children under age 6. Employed fathers with older and younger children were about 
equally likely to work full time, at 95.7 percent and 95.4 percent, respectively. 
(See table 5.)


 _______________________________________________________________________________________
|											|
|                Change in classification by marital status and family type             |
|											|
| Estimates in this news release reflect a change in the classification of persons in 	|
| same-sex marriages. In this news release, estimates of the number of married persons 	|
| refer to those in opposite-sex and same-sex marriages. In prior news releases, 	|
| estimates of the number of married persons referred to those in opposite-sex 		|
| marriages only. The definition of families incorporates this change by expanding the  |
| definition of married-couple families to include same-sex married couples. 		|
|											|
| This new classification results in a larger estimate of the number of persons who are |
| married with a spouse present. It also results in a larger estimate of the number of  |
| married-couple families and the total number of families. Estimates of same-sex 	|
| married-couple families are not displayed in this news release. BLS continues to 	|
| evaluate these data. 									|
|											|
| Family estimates and estimates by marital status for 2020 and 2019 in this news	|
| release incorporate this change. Therefore, 2019 estimates presented in these tables  |
| do not match those published in the "Employment Characteristics of Families--2019" 	|
| news release and in the BLS online database. 						|
|_______________________________________________________________________________________|



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Last Modified Date: April 21, 2021