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New Moms Who Cohabit

When one pictures an unmarried mother, one might conjure up an image of a woman who is raising her child alone. And many of them do so. But a fair number of these women are actually living with a cohabiting partner.

Demographers who have long studied this issue should be aware that, for the first time, the Census Bureau is releasing data on births to women in cohabitational relationships. The information comes from the June Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS).

Even though the CPS is best known for providing the data that are used to calculate the monthly unemployment rate, it asks a rotating series of questions of respondents each month that are added to the core questions on labor force participation. Questions relating to the fertility of the nation’s women are included every other June.

The report, Fertility of American Women: 2008, shows the average number of children women have in the US. It also shows the average number of new mothers over time as well as characteristics of new mothers; important information for service providers such as hospitals and day care centers.

Thanks to a direct question on cohabitation that was recently added, we are able to report that among the 1.5 million unmarried women who gave birth during the period between June 2007 and June 2008, about 425,000 ─ 28 percent ─ were living with a cohabitating partner. These unmarried mothers included those who were separated and those married with an absent spouse. Overall, 4 million women age 15 to 44 gave birth during that period.

The report also examines the unemployment situation of new mothers. In 2008, 6 percent of mothers nationally with a recent birth were looking for a job. In Alabama, that proportion was 10 percent and in Hawaii only 1 percent of new mothers were looking for work.

Read the full report: Fertility of American Women: 2008.

To view our data on the fertility of American women, click here.

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