WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau announced a decline in the numbers of working women with infant children. The rates fell from a record-high 59 percent in 1998 to 55 percent in 2000, the first significant decline since 1976 when the Bureau developed the indicator. In 1976, only 31 percent of new mothers were in the workforce.

“It’s encouraging to see that more women today are choosing full-time motherhood,” Family Research Council President Ken Connor said Thursday. “But, regardless of their choice, women shouldn’t be forced into the workforce and required to
abandon their children because government insists on such a huge part of the family income.

“As the White House and Congress prepare to look at more tax relief, they should look specifically at policies that would help families the most. They should accelerate the elimination of the marriage tax penalty and expedite an increase in the child tax credit.”

Polls consistently report working women’s desire to be at home with their children. In 1996, the Independent Women’s Forum asked women: If you had enough money to live as comfortably as you’d like, would you prefer to work full- time, work part time, do volunteer work, or work at home caring for your family? Of the women responding, only 15 percent replied they wanted to work full-time. Thirty-one
percent said they wanted to be at home with their children.

A 1997 Pew Research Center poll found that only one-third of mothers with children under age 18 said they prefer full- time over working part-time or not at all.

“Policymakers should lend an attentive ear to what women want. Our society and government should no longer treat women who choose to be at home with their children as second class citizens,” Mr. Connor said. “Women realize that the
first few developmental years of a child’s life are crucial, and they recognize their importance as mothers during these early years. Government needs to understand this too and do all it can to ensure that families are strong.