Unemployment in America from a Child’s Perspective

The report Unemployment from a Child’s Perspective written by Julia Isaacs examines unemployment from a child’s perspective, reporting that 6.2 million children lived in families with unemployed parents in 2012. ( Adapted chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor to follow)

When a parent loses a job, the entire family is affected, including the children. Money is suddenly tighter, and what was affordable last month, no longer is. Even children who are too young to be aware of financial adjustments may pick up on a change in the family atmosphere. Adults may be arguing more frequently, and parents may speak more sharply to their children. While children may benefit from their parents spending more time at home, the downsides of parental unemployment—the loss in family income and increase in parental stress—tend to overshadow such potential benefits, leaving children worse off when one of their parents loses a job.

Millions of American lost their jobs during the Great Recession, and millions were still unemployed in 2012. As a result, millions of children have experienced parental unemployment recently; 6.2 million children still lived in families with unemployed parents in an average month of 2012.

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The number rises higher—to 12.1 million, or one in six children—under broader measures of parental under- or unemployment. Because children are often overlooked in official unemployment statistics, this brief examines unemployment from a child’s perspective.

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Many of these children live with parents who have been out of work six month or longer. Unemployment insurance covers only 36 percent of children with unemployed parents; unemployed parents are more likely to receive SNAP benefits than UI benefits.

The report provides estimates of children affected by unemployment by state and metropolitan area, considers the effects of parental job loss on child development, and reviews policies affecting the safety net for children of the unemployed.

The report addresses the following questions:

  • How many children are affected by parental unemployment?
  • How does parental job loss affect children?
  • Who are the children of the unemployed?
  • Where do the children of the unemployed live?
  • To what extent are families with children covered by unemployment insurance? The brief concludes with a review of policies affecting the safety net for children of the unemployed. It is part of a series of issue briefs examining the impact of the recession on children.


Children affected by parental unemployment come from diverse family backgrounds. Of the 6.2 million children living with unemployed parents in an average month of 2012, 2.6 million are non-Hispanic white, 1.3 million are non-Hispanic black, 1.8 million are Hispanic, 185,000 are Asian, 47,000 are American Indians and Alaskan natives, and 322,000 are children of other races, including children of more than one race (figure 2). About a quarter of children of the unemployed are children of immigrants, similar to the percentage of children of immigrants among the general population.

Capture d’écran 2013-04-27 à 16.47.09 Slightly less than one-fifth are children whose parents lack high school diplomas, three-fifths are children of high school graduates, and nearly one- quarter are children of college-educated parents. Finally, two-fifths are children in single-parent families, and three-fifths are children in two-parent families.

via Unemployment from a Child’s Perspective.

Full report @

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5 thoughts on “Unemployment in America from a Child’s Perspective

  1. Reblogged this on This Got My Attention and commented:
    A different take on unemployment.

    Posted by Mike | April 27, 2013, 7:00 pm


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