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posted on 08 May 2016

In 2015, 6.9 Percent Of Families Included An Unemployed Person, Down From 2014

from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

In 2015, 6.9 percent of families included an unemployed person, down from 8.0 percent in 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Of the nation's 81.4 million families, 80.3 percent had at least one employed member in 2015.

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 without children as well as those with children under age 18.

Families and Unemployment

The number of families with at least one member unemployed decreased by 871,000 to 5.6 million in 2015, and the proportion of families with an unemployed person declined by 1.1 percentage points to 6.9 percent. Black and Hispanic families remained more likely to have an unemployed member in 2015 (12.0 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively) than White or Asian families (6.0 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively). (See table 1.)

In 2015, about two-thirds (68.2 percent) of families with an unemployed member also had at least one family member who was employed, and 58.8 percent had at least one family member who was employed full time. Both measures were about unchanged from 2014.

Among married-couple families with an unemployed member, the proportion with at least one employed family member was 80.6 percent in 2015. Among families maintained by women (no spouse present) with an unemployed member, 48.2 percent also had an employed family member in 2015; for families maintained by men (no spouse present), the proportion was 57.0 percent. These proportions were all about the same as in the prior year. (

Families and Employment

In 2015, the share of families with an employed member was 80.3 percent, up by 0.2 percentage point from 2014. The likelihood of having an employed family member rose in 2015 for Black families (from 76.4 percent to 77.7 percent) and for Hispanic families (from 85.9 percent to 86.4 percent). The likelihood for White and Asian families showed little or no change (80.1 percent and 88.6 percent, respectively).

In 2015, families maintained by women with no spouse present remained less likely to have an employed member (75.0 percent) than families maintained by men with no spouse present (82.9 percent) or married-couple families (81.4 percent). Among married-couple families, both the husband and wife were employed in 48.0 percent of families; in 19.8 percent of married-couple families only the husband was employed, and in 7.1 percent only the wife was employed.

Families with Children

In 2015, 34.4 million families included children under age 18, about two-fifths 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.) Among families with children, 89.3 percent had at least one employed parent in 2015. Among married-couple families with children, 96.7 percent had at least one employed parent; both parents worked in 60.6 percent of married-couple families. Among families of other marital statuses with children, the mother was employed in 70.8 percent of those maintained by mothers in 2015, and the father was employed in 82.1 percent of those maintained by fathers. (Other marital status refers to persons who never married or are widowed, divorced, separated, or married but living apart from their spouse.)


The labor force participation rate--the percent of the population working or looking for work--for all women with children under age 18 was 69.9 percent in 2015. The participation rate for married mothers (67.6 percent) remained lower than the rate for mothers with other marital statuses (74.8 percent). The unemployment rate for married mothers was also considerably lower than for mothers with other marital statuses--3.3 percent, compared with 8.9 percent.

Mothers with younger children are less likely to be in the labor force than mothers with older children. In 2015, the labor force participation rate of mothers with children under 6 years old was lower than the rate of those whose youngest child was 6 to 17 years old (64.2 percent versus 74.4 percent). The participation rate of mothers with infants under a year old was 58.1 percent. Among mothers with infants, the participation rates of married mothers and mothers with other marital statuses were little different--57.6 percent and 59.1 percent, respectively. However, the unemployment rate of married mothers with infants, at 3.2 percent, was substantially lower than the rate for mothers with other marital statuses, at 13.9 percent.

In 2015, 92.7 percent of all men with children under age 18 participated in the labor force. The rate for married fathers, at 93.7 percent, continued to be higher than the participation rate of fathers with other marital statuses (86.7 percent). Married fathers also continued to have a lower unemployment rate (2.7 percent) than fathers with other marital statuses (7.4 percent).

[see complete release with tables]

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