Oregon Labor Market Information System
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For Oregon Parents, Working is the Norm
by Jessica Nelson
Published Mar-8-2013

Oregon's civilian labor force includes 626,000 parents of children under 18. Working parents account for 31 percent of the state labor force, a slightly lower share than the nation (34%). Parents of children under six years of age make up 14 percent of the state workforce, and those with children ages six to 17 years account for another 17 percent.

Parents in the Beaver State have higher labor force participation rates than the average across the nation. Nationally, 80.6 percent of parents with children under 18 were in the labor force in 2011, compared with 82.6 percent in Oregon. Men's participation doesn't differ much from the national norm; 92.9 percent of Oregon dads are in the labor force, just slightly below the national labor force participation rate of 93.5 percent. The participation rate of Oregon women with children under 18, however, is 3 percentage points above the national level (73.5% vs. the nation's 70.6%).

The Vast Majority of Oregon Parents Work
Parents are more likely to be working than people without children under 18 (Graph 1). The participation rate for the population with no children under 18 is 59.7 percent, compared with 82.6 percent of parents with children under 18. This likely reflects an aging population and many retired people. Participation for teens and young adults has also been lower in recent years than in decades past.

Labor force participation of parents differs by gender and the age of children. For parents of children under six years of age, there's a big difference in the labor force experiences of men versus women. Of the men in this group, 93.4 percent are in the labor force, compared with 68.5 percent of Oregon mothers of children under age six. That female participation rate of 68.5 percent in Oregon is nearly 5 percentage points above the national participation rate of 63.9 percent for mothers of children under age six.

The gender gap in labor force participation is reduced somewhat for parents of children ages six to 17. For men with children ages six to 17, the participation rate was 92.5 percent in 2011, and 77.6 percent of Oregon women with children in that age range were in the labor force.

For people without children under 18, the genders behave far more similarly in their likelihood of labor force participation. Men in this group had a participation rate of 62.4 percent, just over 5 percentage points higher than the women's participation rate of 57.1 percent.

Graph 1
Parents have high labor force participation rates
The Marriage Effect
Participation varies depending on several factors. In addition to the age of the kids waiting for dinner at home and a worker's gender, there's the effect of marital status. Of Oregon's 626,000 working parents, 526,000 - the vast majority - are married, with a spouse present. Another 101,000 have another marital status, which includes those never married, married with spouse absent, divorced, separated or widowed. Overall, 83.5 percent of married parents in Oregon were in the labor force in 2011, compared with 78.2 percent of parents with another marital status.

Married parents show a wider variation in labor force participation between genders (Graph 2). Married mothers are less likely to work, and married fathers are more likely to work. Parents with any other marital status have more similar labor force participation between genders.

Graph 2
Women are More Likely to Work Part Time
Regardless of parental status, women are more likely than men to work part time. Across all employed Oregonians in 2011, 17 percent of men worked part time and 33 percent of women worked part time, meaning fewer than 35 hours a week at all jobs. Nearly half a million Oregon workers work part time - that's 162,000 Oregon men and 290,000 Oregon women. More than one-quarter of Oregon's part-time workers are parents of children under age 18.

Women with children under age six are the most likely to work part-time, with 39 percent of employed females in this group reporting part-time status (Graph 3). Men with children under age six were far less likely to work part time, with only 6 percent reporting such schedules. More than one-third of employed women and 8 percent of employed men with children ages six to 17 work part time.

Once again, for people without children under the age of 18, the employment experiences of the genders are more similar. In this group, 22 percent of men and 31 of women work part time.

Graph 3
Women work part time more often regardless of parent status
Working parents make up almost one-third of the Oregon workforce. Parents' participation in the labor force varies depending on several factors, including the age of children, a worker's gender, and marital status. Parents have high labor force participation rates, with the vast majority in the labor force and employed. For Oregon parents, working is the norm.