Change Indicator

Children whose parents lack secure employment in United States

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Why This Indicator Matters

Children living in families lacking secure parental employment are vulnerable. Without at least one parent employed full time, children are more likely to fall into poverty. Yet too many parents who want full-time work are forced to piece together part-time or temporary jobs that do not provide sufficient or stable income; some lack the education and skills needed to secure a good job. Even a full-time job at low wages does not necessarily lift a family out of poverty.

This indicator is part of the KIDS COUNT Child Well-Being Index. Read the KIDS COUNT Data Book to learn more:
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Definition and Source



The share of all children under age 18 living in families where no parent has regular, full-time employment.

For children living in single-parent families, this means the resident parent did not work at least 35 hours per week, at least 50 weeks in the 12 months prior to the survey. For children living in married-couple families, this means neither parent worked at least 35 hours per week, at least 50 weeks in the 12 months prior to the survey. Children living with neither parent were listed as not having secure parental employment because those children are likely to be economically vulnerable. This measure is very similar to the measure called "Secure Parental Employment," used by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics in its publication America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being.

Data Source

Population Reference Bureau, analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2008 - 2019, 2021 American Community Survey.


Updated November 2022.
S – Estimates suppressed when the confidence interval around the percentage is greater than or equal to 10 percentage points.
N.A. – Data not available.
Data are provided for the 50 most populous cities according to the most recent Census counts. Cities for which data is collected may change over time.
A 90 percent confidence interval for each estimate can be found at Children whose parents lack secure employment.

Last Updated

November 2022