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The latest look at the American family from the U.S. Census Bureau shows just what effect the recession is having on families and households. Of the 25.8 million married couples with children under 18, about 6 percent of husbands were unemployed in 2009, compared with 3 percent in 2007; 4 percent of wives were unemployed in 2009, compared with 2 percent in 2007.
Among the 1.5 million family groups with two unmarried parents, 16 percent of the fathers were unemployed in March of 2009, compared with 9 percent in March of 2007, while 8 percent of the mothers were unemployed in 2009, compared with 4 percent in 2007.
In 2009, 12 percent of the 1.7 million father-only family groups with children under 18 were maintained by an unemployed father, compared with 7 percent in 2007. Of the 9.9 million mother-only family groups, 10 percent were unemployed in 2009 compared with 6 percent in 2007.
“These statistics show us that families are having a difficult time during this recession,” said Rose Kreider, family demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau. "The data allow us to track annual changes in the structure and condition of the American family."
These data come from the March 2009 Current Population Survey, presented as a series of detailed tables known as America's Families and Living Arrangements. The tables provide current and historical perspective, allowing for the examination of different types of families by employment status as well as other demographic characteristics over time.
The percentage of married couples with children under 18 with both parents employed dropped from 63 percent in 2007 to 59 percent in 2009. A higher percentage of married couples with children under 18 had only the wife employed in 2009 (7 percent) than in 2007 (5 percent).
These statistics varied by race and ethnicity. White non-Hispanic married couples with children under 18 where both were employed went from 66 percent in 2007 to 63 percent in 2009. The percentage of these couples where only the wife was employed went from 4 percent in 2007 to 7 percent in 2009.
Black married couples with children under 18 with both parents employed went from 66 percent in 2007 to 61 percent in 2009. The percentage of these couples where only the wife was employed went from 9 percent in 2007 to 12 percent in 2009.
Asian married couples with children under 18 where both spouses were employed went from 57 percent in 2007 to 55 percent in 2009. The percentage of these couples where only the wife was employed went from 5 percent in 2007 to 7 percent in 2009. Neither of these changes was statistically significant.
Hispanic married couples with children under 18 where both spouses were employed went from 50 percent in 2007 to 43 percent in 2009. The percentage of these couples where only the wife was employed went from 5 percent in 2007 to 8 percent in 2009.
Other statistics of note —
-- 85 percent of Asian children
-- 38 percent of black children
-- 69 percent of Hispanic children
-- 78 percent of white, non-Hispanic
The Current Population Survey is a monthly survey of households conducted by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It provides comprehensive data on labor force participation, employment and unemployment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics issues the official unemployment numbers.