Who Are the “Working Poor”?

by Clyde Weiss  |  January 22, 2013

Who Are the “Working Poor”?

It’s shameful. About 10 million “working poor” families – 47 million Americans in all, half of whom are children – currently live near poverty.

That’s according to a new report by the Working Poor Project, using the most recent data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Their findings mean nearly a third of all working families are struggling – up from 28 percent in 2007, at the start of the Great Recession.

“The total number of people … could reach 50 million in the next few years. That’s roughly equivalent to the total number of people living in California, Oregon and Washington combined,” say the report’s authors, Brandon Roberts, Deborah Povich and Mark Mather.

A family of four is considered to be living below the poverty line if they make less than $22,811.

The increase of poverty in America is familiar to AFSCME, which is why we are dedicated to preserving the economic safety net – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – in the face of corporate-backed efforts to undermine it through reckless budget cuts.

Here are more sobering numbers from the Working Poor Report, “Low-Income Working Families: The Growing Economic Gap”:

  • In 2011, there were 23 million children in low-income working families.
  • In 10 states, the share of low-income working families increased by 5 percentage points or more between 2007 and 2011.
  • The richest 20 percent of working families took home nearly half (48 percent) of all income, while those in the bottom 20 percent received less than 5 percent.

Read the full and sobering report here.

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