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Working Mothers and Child Care


In 2009, 71.4 percent of women with children under 18 years of age were in the labor force (either employed or looking for work), and 65.5 percent were employed. Among men, rates were 93.8 percent and 86.8 percent, respectively. Labor force participation among women varied by a number of factors. Of mothers with children aged birth through 5 years, 64.2 percent were in the labor force, while among those whose youngest child was aged 6–17 years, 77.3 percent were in the labor force. Employed mothers with children birth to age five were more likely to be employed part time than mothers with older children (29.2 versus 24.2 percent).

In 2007, 54.2 percent of children aged birth through 5 years were in childcare for 10 or more hours per week. Overall, 29.1 percent of children were in the care of a non-relative, while 14.7 percent were cared for by a relative and 10.4 percent received both relative and non-relative care. Childcare arrangements varied by race/ethnicity: 55.8 percent of Hispanic children did not receive 10 or more hours of childcare per week while the same was true of 45.2 percent of non-Hispanic White children and 32.0 percent of non-Hispanic Black children. A greater proportion of both non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic children received 10 or more hours of childcare per week from a relative (20.5 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively) than non-Hispanic White children (13.2 percent).

Securing childcare can be difficult for families. In 2007, nearly 20 percent of families who did not receive 10 or more hours of childcare per week for their child reported that they needed child care during the prior month. Families with incomes of 400 percent or more of the Federal poverty level ($20,650 for a family of four in 2007) were most likely to report needing care (27.3 percent) compared to 16.9 percent of children living in families with household incomes under 100 percent of the Federal poverty level.


This image is described in the Data section.

labor force participation by age graph

This image is described in the Data section.

childcare arrangements by race graph


Parents’ Labor Force* Participation Rate, by Age of Youngest Child,** 2009
Child Age Group Percent of Parents
Fathers Mothers
*Includes people who are employed and those who are actively seeking work.
**Children include sons, daughters, step-children, and adopted children.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment Characteristics of Families, 2009. Accessed March 2011.
Under 18 Years 93.8 71.4
Aged 0-5 Years 95.1 64.2
Aged 6-17 Years 92.7 77.3
Childcare Arrangements* for Children Aged 0-5 Years, by Race/Ethnicity, 2007
Race/Ethnicity Percent of Children
No childcare Non-relative Care Relative Care Both Relative and Non-Relative Care
*10 or more hours of childcare per week.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Survey of Children’s Health. Unpublished data.
Total 45.8 29.1 14.7 10.4
Non-Hispanic White 45.2 32.4 13.2 9.2
Non-Hispanic Black 32.0 32.9 20.5 14.5
Hispanic 55.8 17.7 15.6 10.8

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