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The labor force participation rate—the percentage of the population working or looking for work—for all mothers with children under age 18 was 70.5 percent in 2012, little different from the prior year.
|Characteristic||With own children under 18 years||With own children 6–17 years, none younger||With own children under 6 years||With own children under 3 years||With own children 2 years||With own children 1 year||With own children under 1 year|
Civilian noninstitutional population
Labor force (employed plus unemployed)
Employed full time
Employed part time
Not in the labor force
Mothers with younger children are less likely to be in the labor force than mothers with older children. In 2012, the labor force participation rate of mothers with children under 6 years old (64.8 percent) was lower than the rate of those whose youngest child was 6 to 17 years old (75.1 percent). The participation rate of mothers with infants under a year old was 57.0 percent.
Among employed mothers, those with preschoolers are more likely to work part time than are mothers with children ages 6 to 17. About 29 percent of employed mothers with children under age 6 worked part time in 2012, compared with 23 percent of employed mothers with children ages 6 to 17.
These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more information, see "Employment Characteristics of Families – 2012" (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL‑13‑0730. Full-time workers are those who usually work 35 hours or more per week; part-time workers are those who usually work fewer than 35 hours per week.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Happy Mother’s Day from BLS: working mothers in 2012 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2013/ted_20130510.htm (visited March 30, 2023).