Number of working mothers with dependent children in UK surges by 1.2 million

There are now 4.9 million mothers with dependent children in work, up almost a third from 3.7 million in 1996, official figures show

Ben Chapman
Tuesday 26 September 2017 16:56 BST
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The ONS said women with three- and four-year-old children were least likely to be working full-time
The ONS said women with three- and four-year-old children were least likely to be working full-time

The number of working mothers in the UK has surged by 1.2 million over the past two decades, official figures have revealed.

There are now 4.9 million mothers with dependent children in work, up almost a third from 3.7 million in 1996, the Office for National Statistics found. The increase means close to three-quarters of women with dependent children are now in work.

The ONS said women with three- and four-year-old children were least likely to be working full-time. But the employment rate among this group has risen markedly, up from 55.8 per cent in 1996 to 65.1 per cent in 2017, the data showed.

Single parents are less likely to be employed than parents in a couple, the ONS said. Among fathers in a couple, 93 per cent were in work in 2017, compared to 71.7 per cent of single fathers. The ONS found 68.5 per cent of single mothers were in employment, as opposed to 75 per cent of mothers in a couple.

Single mothers were least likely to be employed when the youngest child was under three – only 48.4 per cent of those were in work, according to the data. Single fathers were least likely to be in employment when their youngest dependent child was aged three or four (62.3 per cent).

ONS statistician Emily Glastonbury said: “The continuing rise in the number of working mothers has been a major feature of the labour market in England in the last two decades.

“Reasons for this might include more flexible working practices, shared parental leave and changes to Government policy on the availability of childcare.”

The findings were based on an analysis of data from the Labour Force Survey and the Annual Population Survey.

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