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Labor force participation of mothers and fathers little changed in 2021, remains lower than in 2019

April 27, 2022

The labor force participation rate for all mothers with children under age 18 was 71.2 percent in 2021, unchanged from 2020 but down from 72.3 percent in 2019. The participation rate for fathers with children under age 18, at 92.5 percent in 2021, was little changed from 2020 (92.3 percent) but down from 2019 (93.3 percent).

 Labor force participation rate of parents, 2019–21 annual averages
Year Mothers Fathers

2019

72.3% 93.3%

2020

71.2 92.3

2021

71.2 92.5

Mothers whose youngest child was under age 6 remained less likely to participate in the labor force in 2021 than mothers whose youngest child was ages 6 to 17. By contrast, fathers with younger children were more likely to participate in the labor force than those with older children. The participation rate for fathers of younger children increased by 0.5 percentage point from 2020 to 93.9 percent in 2021. However, participation among fathers of older children (91.5 percent) and mothers of younger and older children (65.6 percent and 75.5 percent, respectively) showed little change from 2020.

 Labor force participation rate of parents by age of youngest child, 2019–21 annual averages
Year Mothers with children under age 6 Mothers with youngest child ages 6 to 17 Fathers with children under age 6 Fathers with youngest child ages 6 to 17

2019

66.4% 76.8% 95.0% 92.0%

2020

65.8 75.4 93.4 91.4

2021

65.6 75.5 93.9 91.5

These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more information, see “Employment Characteristics of Families—2021.” Parents are people with biological, step-, 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.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Labor force participation of mothers and fathers little changed in 2021, remains lower than in 2019 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2022/labor-force-participation-of-mothers-and-fathers-little-changed-in-2021-remains-lower-than-in-2019.htm (visited December 08, 2022).