October 13, 2010

Working Wives and Unemployed Husbands

Among married couples with their own children under 18 at home, the share with a working wife and unemployed husband went up in 41 states in 2009, compared with the year before, according to a new Census Bureau analysis of data from the American Community Survey. Nationally, the share of married couples with minor children where the wife was employed and the husband was not rose to 3.4% in 2009, compared with 1.8% in 2008.

The Census Bureau analysis links the rise to the Great Recession’s harsher impact on male-dominated industries, such as manufacturing, compared with female-dominated sectors such as health care. It also notes that the number of women older than 25 with advanced degrees (which can buffer against unemployment) rose from 2008 to 2009, while the number of men with advanced degrees did not change. A Pew Research Center report earlier this year reached some similar conclusions about marriage and gender; it found a rising share of U.S.-born women ages 30-44 are more educated and earn more income than their husbands.

The new Census Bureau analysis is among a dozen new ACS briefs released this week that use data from the 2009 survey. The briefs explore themes that include commuting, labor force participation, housing, use of public assistance, immigration, and science and engineering degrees.