Economic snapshot | Wages Incomes and Wealth

Earnings decline as unemployment continues to rise among working families

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Snapshot for October 1, 2003.

Earnings decline as unemployment continues to rise among working families

While the rising unemployment rate since the recession began in March 2001 is an important indicator of labor market weakness, it does not tell us how many families have experienced extended periods of unemployment over the course of a year.

Share of working families with children with at least one parent unemployed for 13 or more weeks

Recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau help answer this question. From 2000 to 2002, the share of working families with children having one or more parents unemployed for 13 weeks or longer rose from 4.6% to 7.3%. For African American families, the picture is even worse: fully one in 10 African American working families with children had one or more parents out of work for 13 or more weeks in 2002, up from 7.1% in 2000.

The impact on family earnings is predictable given the growth in unemployment. The median earnings of working families with children fell 2.6% from $49,319 in 2000 to $48,046 in 2002 (2002 dollars).

Note: In the March 2003 CPS, respondents were allowed to select multiple races. The statistics for African Americans in 2002 include those that selected either black alone or black in addition to other races.

Today’s snapshot was written by EPI economic analyst Jeff Chapman.

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