Statistics for New Jersey’s Dads Don’t Follow Nationwide Trends

Colleen O'Dea | June 13, 2014 | Map of the Week, Maps
Percentage of one-parent families led by father declines in NJ while U.S. number climbs

New Jersey is home to an estimated 2.2 million fathers, based on nationwide numbers compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.

As Father’s Day is observed this Sunday, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey offers some insights into where dads fit into the population picture in New
Jersey and nationwide.

In 2012, a father was present in nearly 784,000 New Jersey families with children under 18, or about three-quarters of all families. That’s 3 percent lower, however, than in 2009.

While the numbers show that fewer New Jersey families with children under 18 have a father present, there are more children in the typical single-parent household headed by a father.

Based on the total number of families in the state, the percentage of families headed by a father alone dropped from 8 percent in 2009 to 6.1 percent in 2012.

The proportion of all one-parent families headed by a male declined from 22.4 percent to 19.7 percent in 2012, the data shows.

However, the number of children living in single-parent households with a dad alone increased by 2.6 percent to 104,000, reflecting the increase in the number of children per household.

New Jersey’s single-father trends run counter to what’s happened nationally.

Nationwide, the number of families with minor children headed by a male alone rose 14.4 percent between 2009 and 2012, according to the Census’ Current Population Survey. The proportion of all families that were single-parent father families increased from 5.9 percent to 6.9 percent. And the percent of all single-parent families that were headed by males rose from 20.1 percent to 21.4 percent. Nationally, 63 percent of fathers heading households alone were divorced or separated, while one-third had never been married.

Within New Jersey, the state’s cities tended to have the lowest percentages of families with children and a father present, but there was also an area in South Jersey and some isolated municipalities throughout the state in which fewer than 70 percent of families with children had a father present.

By contrast, municipalities where the father was present in at least 92 percent of families were dotted throughout the state.

Specific data on stay-at-home fathers is not available, but the Census showed 32,309 New Jersey families with children in which the father was not working in 2012. That’s an increase of 7 percent over 2009. But some of that could be due to recession-related difficulties in finding a job, rather than a decision to stay at home to care for children.

Nationally, the Census Bureau estimates there were 214,000 stay-at-home dads last year. It defined a stay-at-home dad as a man who spent a full year caring for his family while his spouse worked full-time for the year.

The Pew Research Center used a much broader definition to calculate that there were 2 million stay-at-home fathers nationwide in 2012, almost twice as many as in 1989. It attributed part of the increase to the poor labor market due to the recession but said the largest factor in the increase “is the rising number of fathers who are at home primarily to care for their family,” cited by one in five non-working dads in 2012.