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October 22, 2001
Fewer New Mothers Entering Workforce
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the first time since it began collecting the data in 1976, the Census Bureau reports a drop in the percentage of mothers with infant children joining the workforce.

Labor force participation rates of mothers with infant children fell from a record-high of 59 percent in 1998 to 55 percent in 2000, according to a report released today by the Commerce Department agency.

"The declines occurred primarily among mothers in the workforce who were 30 years old and over, white women, married women living with their husbands and women who had completed one or more years of college," said analyst Martin O'Connell about the report, entitled "Fertility of American Women: June 2000."

"Whether the declines are short-lived or will continue depends to a considerable extent on changes in the economy and changes in the lifestyles of new mothers in balancing work and child-rearing activities."

In contrast to the overall trend, younger mothers (under age 30),
African American mothers, Hispanic mothers and mothers who had a high
school education or less did not experience a decline in their labor force participation rates between 1998 and 2000.

The labor force participation rate of new mothers was still much higher than the 31 percent first recorded by the Census Bureau in 1976.

Other highlights from the report:

- The fertility rate for Hispanic women in 2000 was 47 percent higher than the overall average. Foreign-born Hispanic women had a higher fertility rate (112 births per 1,000 women) than native Hispanic women (80 per 1,000). About 1 in 5 births in the United States was to a Hispanic women.

- Births to foreign-born women made up 17 percent of all births in 2000. The fertility rate for foreign-born women (85 births per 1,000 women) was higher than for native-born women (62 per 1,000).

- Approximately 1.2 million women gave birth out of wedlock in the 12 months preceding the survey, representing 31 percent of all births during this period. The proportion of out-of-wedlock births was considerably lower among foreign-born women (18 percent) than among native-born women (34 percent).

- Overall, 43 percent of women in the childbearing ages (15 to 44 years old) were childless in 2000. Among women 40-to-44 years old who were nearing the completion of their childbearing years, 19 percent were childless, almost twice as high as women of the same age in 198(10 percent).

- Women nearing the end of their childbearing years had an average of 1.9 children, which is below the level required for the natural replacement of the population (about 2.1 births per woman). This average is one child less than the average for women in this same age group in 1980 (3.0 children).
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