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February 2018Vol. 19, No. 1Parent Work Schedules in Households With Young Children

Work schedules affect the way parents use public or private early care and education and nonparental care services (e.g., daycare staff), particularly if they are parents to children under the age of 5. A recent research report based on data from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) describes how work schedules and total hours worked per week vary for households based on income level, whether they are one- or two-parent families, and whether one or both parents are employed. The report pays particular attention to households that are considered fully employed, meaning all parents in the household work, regardless of whether they are one- or two-parent households.

NSECE is funded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is a set of four integrated, nationally representative surveys conducted during a week in 2012. Parents were asked to self-report on their own work schedules as well the schedules of their spouses/partners. The following are key findings gleaned from the NSECE interviews:

  • Parents in households that are fully employed work a similar number of hours per week whether they are one- or two-parent families. Two-parent, fully employed households log an average of 80 hours of work per week, which implies that each parent works approximately 40 hours per week on average. In one-parent, fully employed households the sole parent usually logs an average of 37 hours per week.
  • In two-parent households where only one parent works, the working parent works an average of 47 hours per week.
  • Workers in two-parent, fully employed households tend to arrange their work schedules so that there are fewer hours per week when both parents are working.
  • In both one- and two-parent fully employed households, each parent works, on average, a similar amount of nonstandard work hours (outside of Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) each week; however, very few two-parent households have any nonstandard hours when both parents are working.
  • Single parents are more likely to require child care during nonstandard hours to accommodate parental work time, whereas in two-parent households, it is rare for both parents to have work-related activities at the same nonstandard time.

The data provide information on when and who may require early care and nonparental care services to support parental employment as well as the supply and demand for early care and education services in the United States. The report also provides a better understanding of how families' needs are being met by providers and others involved in caring for young children with one or two working parents.

The report, Parent Work Schedules in Households With Young Children, is available at (459 KB).