For Oregon Parents, Working Is the Norm

by Jessica Nelson

May 31, 2017

Oregon’s civilian labor force includes almost 660,000 parents of children under 18. Working parents account for almost 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 18 percent.

Parents in the Beaver State have about the same labor force participation rate as the average across the nation. Nationally, 80.4 percent of parents with children under 18 were in the labor force in 2016, compared with 80.7 percent in Oregon. Among men, 92.0 percent of Oregon dads are in the labor force, very similar to the national labor force participation rate of 92.8 percent. The participation rate of Oregon women with children under 18 is slightly above the national level (71.4% vs. the nation’s 70.5%).

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 57.0 percent, compared with 80.7 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, 92.2 percent are in the labor force, compared with 63.0 percent of Oregon mothers of children under age six. Oregon rates for mothers and fathers of children under the age of six are about 2 percentage points below the national participation rates.

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 91.8 percent in 2016, and 78.7 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 very similar to the national rate, while Oregon women’s participation rate is nearly 4 percentage points above the national rate of 75.0 percent for women with children ages six to 17.

For people without children under 18, the genders behave more similarly in their likelihood of labor force participation. Men in this group had a participation rate of 61.2 percent compared with the women’s participation rate of 52.9 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 660,000 working parents, 514,000 – the vast majority – are married, with a spouse present. Another 146,000 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 81.5 percent of married parents in the labor force in 2016, compared with 78.1 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 69.3, while almost all married fathers of children under the age of 18 are in the labor force, with a participation rate of 93.5 percent.

Parents with any other marital status have more similar labor force participation between genders. Three-quarters (76.3%) of Oregon mothers in this group are in the labor force compared with 82.9 percent of 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 2016, 15 percent of men worked part time and 29 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 151,000 Oregon men and 269,000 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 33 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 8 percent reporting such schedules. For those with children ages six to 17, 23 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 30 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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