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2009 Was a Very Bad Year For U.S. Families

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report entitled "Employment Characteristics of Families" today that explores household unemployment levels.

What BLS concludes isn't unexpected but it's depressing: More U.S. families include someone unemployed than at any time in the 16 years since BLS began collecting these data. There are slightly more than 78 million families in the United States (78.4 million families, to be exact) and 80.4% of them had at least one person working in 2009. In 2008, 82.2% of households had at least one person working.

I found this paragraph rather striking:

Forty-four percent of all families included children (sons, daughters, step-children, and adopted children) under age 18. Among the 34.8 million families with children, 87.8 percent had an employed parent in 2009, down from 90.0 percent in 2008. The mother was employed in 67.8 percent of families maintained by women with no spouse present in 2009, and the father was employed in 76.6 percent of those maintained by men with no spouse present. Among married-couple families with children, 95.7 percent had an employed parent in 2009, down from 97.0 percent in 2008. Both the mother and father were employed in 58.9 percent of married-couple families with children in 2009, also lower than a year earlier
So 12.2% of kids were living in homes last year where neither mom nor dad had a job. Wow.

You can find the full summary here. After reading it, I needed a dose of Frank Sinatra describing his autumn years as "vintage wine." I don't know about you, but this Gen Xer is going to feel more like $6.99 tap wine dispensed from a cardboard box after this recession ends.


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