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Half of First-Time Mothers Receive Paid Leave, Census Bureau Reports

November 10, 2011

Half of First-Time Mothers Receive Paid Leave, Census Bureau Reports
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Fifty-one percent of working women who had their first birth between 2006 and 2008 received paid leave (i.e. maternity leave, sick leave, vacation) compared with 42 percent between 1996 and 2000, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

This finding comes from Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961-2008 [PDF], a report that analyzes trends in women’s work experience before their first child, identifies their maternity leave arrangements before and after the birth and examines how rapidly they returned to work.

“The last three decades have seen major changes in the work patterns of expectant mothers,” said Lynda Laughlin, a family demographer at the Census Bureau. “Access to paid leave makes it possible for mothers to care for their newborns and maintain financial stability.”

The likelihood that a mother has access to paid leave varies with age, hours worked and education. About 24 percent of women under age 22 used paid leave compared with 61 percent of women 25 and older. Full-time workers were more likely to use paid-leave benefits than part-time workers (56 percent and 21 percent, respectively). Women who have not graduated from high school are less likely to use paid maternity leave as women who have graduated from college.

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