Number of Working Moms With Infants Drops

October 18, 2001 ( - For the first time in nearly thirty years, the number of working US moms with infants is dropping.

The latest Census Bureau report on the subject shows that 55% of moms with children a year or younger worked last year down from 59% in 1998.

That was the first statistically significant decline since the government began compiling statistics on working mothers in 1976.

According to the report, the decline was among those most likely to be able to afford to take a break — older mothers, white women, married women living with their husbands, and women with at least a year of college.

There was no statistically significant drop among mothers who were younger, African American or Hispanic, or who had a high school education or less.

Working Moms a Broad Trend

The working mom decline signals a shift in a social trend that has had broad impact across the nation’s economy, culture and daily life.

The trend:

·         helped inspire a federal law requiring employers to provide unpaid family leave.

·         triggered research and emotional debate over the effect of working mothers on children’s well-being.

The percentage of working mothers with infants has risen steadily in the past three decades, from 31 percent in 1976, to more than half by 1988, to the high of nearly 60 percent in 1998.

Just because the women may not be working now doesn’t necessarily mean they’re out of the workforce for good.

The data from the bureau’s monthly household Current Population Survey counted a woman in the labor force if she was working or looking for work.