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- Definition: Estimated percentage of children ages 0-17 in families without a resident parent who worked 35 hours or more per week for at least 50 weeks in the previous 12 months (e.g., in 2012-2016, 32.6% of California children lived in families without secure parental employment).
- Data Source: Population Reference Bureau, analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey microdata files (Feb. 2018).
- Footnote: These estimates are based on a survey of the population and are subject to both sampling and nonsampling error.
- Measures of Unemployment on Kidsdata.org
On kidsdata.org, estimates of children under age 18 living in families without secure parental employment (in which no resident parent worked 35 hours or more per week for at least 50 weeks in the previous 12 months) are available as 1-year estimates for regions with 65,000+ residents and as 5-year estimates for regions of 10,000+ residents and legislative districts.
Kidsdata.org also provides estimates of unemployed persons in the labor force ages 16 and older. Unemployment numbers and rates reflect persons who are not employed, are available for work, and have looked for a job in the previous 4 weeks.*
- Family Income and Poverty
- Children in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children Living in Areas of Concentrated Poverty
- Children in Deep Poverty (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Median Family Income, by Family Type (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Household Income Distribution, by Quintile (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Gini Index of Household Income Inequality (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Income Level for Children Relative to Poverty (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Income Level for Children Relative to Poverty, by Family Type (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Children Living in Low-Income Working Families (Regions of 65,000 Residents or More)
- Mothers with a Recent Birth Living in Families in Poverty
- Mothers with a Recent Birth Living in Low-Income Families
- Children in Poverty - Supplemental Poverty Measure (California & U.S. Only)
- Poverty Thresholds - California Poverty Measure, by Family Composition and Housing Tenure
- Children in Poverty - California Poverty Measure
- Children in Deep Poverty - California Poverty Measure
- Poverty-Reducing Effects of the Social Safety Net - California Poverty Measure, by Program Type and Poverty Level (California Only)
- Self-Sufficiency Standard, by Family Composition
- Families Living Below Self-Sufficiency Standard
- Children Participating in CalWORKs
- Student Demographics
- Food Security
- Disconnected Youth
- Childhood Adversity and Resilience
- Children with Adverse Experiences (Parent Reported), by Number: 0-2
- Prevalence of Childhood Hardships (Maternal Retrospective)
- by Family Income (CA Only)
- by Maternal Age (CA Only)
- by Prenatal Insurance Coverage (CA Only)
- by Race/Ethnicity (CA Only)
- Basic Needs Not Met
- Basic Needs Not Met, by Family Income (CA Only)
- Basic Needs Not Met, by Maternal Age (CA Only)
- Basic Needs Not Met, by Prenatal Insurance Coverage (CA Only)
- Basic Needs Not Met, by Race/Ethnicity (CA Only)
- Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (Adult Retrospective)
- Housing Affordability and Resources
- Fair Market Rent, by Unit Size
- Households with a High Housing Cost Burden
- Children Living in Crowded Households
- Impact of Special Health Care Needs on Children & Families
- Why This Topic Is Important
Unemployment and underemployment reduce family income and can lead to financial instability. In addition to limiting parents' ability to meet their families' material needs, financial stress can affect their ability to provide for their children emotionally. Consequently, family financial hardship can contribute to behavioral and social problems in children, and compound poor physical health (1). Children who experience economic hardship when they are young, or who experience extreme and prolonged hardship, are at greatest risk for poor developmental outcomes (1). Children with unemployed parents also are at higher risk of experiencing family relocation and repeating a grade in school compared with children whose parents are stably employed (1, 2). In addition, long-term parental unemployment is associated with decreased earnings for children when they enter the work force (2).For more information on unemployment, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Isaacs, J. (2013). Unemployment from a child's perspective. Urban Institute & First Focus. Retrieved from: https://www.urban.org/research/publication/unemployment-childs-perspective
2. Child Trends Databank. (2015). Secure parental employment. Retrieved from: https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/indicator_1457197335.909.pdf
- How Children Are Faring
In 2016, an estimated 31% of California children lived in families in which no parent had full-time, year-round employment in the previous 12 months, compared with 28% of children nationwide. Among counties with data in 2012-2016, the percentage of children without secure parental employment ranged from 22% (San Mateo) to 48% (Siskiyou).
California's unemployment rate in 2017 was an estimated 4.8%, lower than at any point in the previous 18 years, and down from an estimated 12.4% in 2010. Since 2000, unemployment trends statewide have followed but consistently exceeded those of the nation.
- Policy Implications
Recent labor market trends generally have benefited California's workforce, but not all families have prospered from the state's strong economy. Despite declining unemployment and sustained job growth in most sectors, disparities persist across regions and demographic groups (1). Addressing barriers to work, skills training, and support services can maximize opportunity for all Californians (1, 2).
Policy options that could improve workforce participation and connection include:
For more policy ideas and research on this topic, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section or visit Urban Institute, California Budget and Policy Center, or Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Also see Policy Implications on kidsdata.org under Family Income and Poverty, Housing Affordability, and Homelessness.
- Retooling state K-12 and higher education systems to improve college eligibility, participation, and graduation rates, particularly among African American/black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic/Latino students (1, 3, 4)
- Ensuring adequate federal and state funding to support families in need, such as cash assistance, subsidized jobs, and other assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and CalWORKs (5, 6)
- Expanding access to affordable child care and transportation among working parents and transit-dependent workers (1, 3, 5)
- Supporting effective job training, workforce development, and re-employment support programs that align with the job market (1, 7)
Sources for this narrative:
1. Bohn, S. (2019). California's future: Economy. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: https://www.ppic.org/publication/californias-future-economy
2. California Workforce Development Board. (n.d.). Skills attainment for upward mobility; aligned services for shared prosperity. Retrieved from: https://cwdb.ca.gov/plans_policies/wioa_unified_strategic_workforce_development_plan
3. Reidenbach, L. (2015). How California’s workforce is changing and why state policy has to change with it. California Budget and Policy Center. Retrieved from: https://calbudgetcenter.org/resources/how-californias-workforce-is-changing-and-why-state-policy-has-to-change-with-it
4. Acosta, R. A., & Martin, E. J. (2013). California urban crisis and fiscal decline: Trends in high school dropout rates and economic implications. Urbana: Urban Affairs and Public Policy, 14. Retrieved from: https://www.urbanauapp.org/wp-content/uploads/robert.pdf
5. California Budget and Policy Center. (2013). A fair chance: Why California should invest in economic opportunity for women and their families. Retrieved from: https://calbudgetcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/130319_A_Fair_Chance.pdf
6. Schott, L., & Pavetti, L. (2013). Changes in TANF work requirements could make them more effective in promoting employment. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Retrieved from: https://www.cbpp.org/research/family-income-support/changes-in-tanf-work-requirements-could-make-them-more-effective-in
7. Acs, G. (2013). Responding to long-term unemployment. Urban Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.urban.org/research/publication/responding-long-term-unemployment
- Websites with Related Information
- California Budget and Policy Center
- California Workforce Development Board
- Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP): Income and Work Supports
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
- Insight Center for Community Economic Development
- Pew Charitable Trusts: Finance and Economy
- Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
- Urban Institute: Economic Well-Being
- Key Reports and Research
- Are California’s Jobs Rebounding? (2020). Public Policy Institute of California. Bohn, S., et al.
- California Workers with Less Education, People of Color, and Immigrants are at Greatest Financial Risk Due to COVID-19. (2020). California Budget and Policy Center. Kimberlin, S., et al.
- California's Future. (2020). Public Policy Institute of California.
- How California’s Workforce Is Changing and Why State Policy Has to Change with It. (2015). California Budget and Policy Center. Reidenbach, L.
- Meet the Low-Wage Workforce. (2019). Brookings Institution. Ross, M., & Bateman, N.
- Opportunities to Address Long-Term Unemployment. (2017). Arabella Advisors.
- Policy Basics: Unemployment Insurance. (2020). Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
- Stabilizing Children’s Lives: Employers. (2020). Urban Institute. Adams, G., & Kuhns, C.
- Stabilizing Supports for Children and Families During the Pandemic. (2020). Urban Institute. Adams, G.
- Taking Action: Positioning Low-Income Workers to Succeed in a Changing Economy. (2019). The Hatcher Group.
- The Federal Job Guarantee - A Policy to Achieve Permanent Full Employment. (2018). Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Paul, M., et al.
- The Great Recession’s Lessons on State and Local Aid’s Importance in Combating an Economic Downturn and Supporting Children. (2020). Urban Institute. Lou, C.
- The Scarring Effects of Father’s Unemployment? Job-Security Satisfaction and Mental Health at Midlife. (2019). The Journals of Gerontology: Series B. Lam, J., et al.
- The Youth Workforce: A Detailed Picture. (2019). Urban Institute. Spievack, N., & Sick, N.
- County/Regional Reports
- Community Health Improvement Plan for Los Angeles County 2015-2020. Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health.
- Important Facts About Kern’s Children. Kern County Network for Children.
- Live Well San Diego Report Card on Children, Families, and Community. (2019). San Diego Children’s Initiative.
- Orange County Community Indicators Report. Orange County Community Indicators Project.
- More Data Sources For Unemployment
- 2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book. Annie E. Casey Foundation.
- California Family Needs Calculator. Insight Center for Community Economic Development.
- California Health Interview Survey. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
- Childstats.gov. Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.
- The Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey. Urban Institute.
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