For Oregon Parents, Working Is the Norm

by Jessica Nelson

June 20, 2019

Oregon’s civilian labor force includes 697,000 parents of children under 18. Working parents account for one-third of the state labor force, a similar percentage to the nation (32%). 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 19 percent.

Parents in the Beaver State are slightly more likely to be in the labor force than the average across the nation. Nationally, 81.3 percent of parents with children under 18 were in the labor force in 2018, compared with 84.0 percent in Oregon. Among men, 93.4 percent of Oregon dads are in the labor force, almost exactly matching the national labor force participation rate of 93.3 percent. The participation rate of Oregon women with children under 18 is almost 5 percentage points above the national level (76.2% vs. the nation’s 71.5%).

The Vast Majority of Oregon Parents Work

Parents are more likely to be working than people without children under 18. The participation rate for the Oregon population with no children under 18 is 54.5 percent, compared with 84.0 percent of parents with children under 18. This likely reflects an aging population and an increasing number of 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, 93.1 percent are in the labor force, compared with 67.0 percent of Oregon mothers of children under age six. Oregon fathers in this group are slightly less likely to be in the labor force than the national average, and Oregon mothers of children under age six are slightly more likely to be in the labor force than the national average.

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 93.7 percent in 2018, and 83.3 percent of Oregon women with children in that age range were in the labor force. The participation rate of men with children ages six to 17 is slightly above the national rate (92.2%). Oregon women’s participation rate is nearly 7 percentage points above the national rate of 76.4 percent for women with children ages six to 17.

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 58.3 percent compared with the women’s participation rate of 50.7 percent.

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 697,000 working parents, 532,000 – the vast majority – are married, with a spouse present. Another 165,000 have another marital status, which includes those never married, married with spouse absent, divorced, separated or widowed. Overall, marital status didn’t have much impact on the likelihood of being in the labor force, with 82.9 percent of married parents in the labor force in 2018, compared with 87.8 percent of parents with another marital status.

Married parents show a wider variation in labor force participation between genders. Married mothers are less likely to work, with a participation rate of 71.6, while almost all married fathers of children under the age of 18 are in the labor force, with a participation rate of 94.0 percent.

Parents with any other marital status have very similar labor force participation between genders. Oregon mothers in this group had a labor force participation rate of 86.9 percent in 2018, compared with a participation rate of 90.2 percent among fathers.
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 2018, 14 percent of men worked part time and 28 percent of women worked part time, meaning fewer than 35 hours a week at all jobs. More than 400,000 Oregon workers work part time – that’s 149,000 Oregon men and 268,000 Oregon women. About 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 36 percent of employed females in this group reporting part-time status. Men with children under age six were far less likely to work part time, with only 7 percent reporting such schedules. For those with children ages six to 17, 21 percent of employed women and 5 percent of employed men 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, 18 percent of men and 29 of women work part time.

Conclusion

Working parents make up 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.


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