The working poor is people who spend 27 weeks or more in a year either working and looking for employment but whose incomes hardly reach the poverty line. According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 9 million such individuals can be considered “working” this past year; 6.3 percent were classified as being below that threshold, which means they fall into what’s known as “the low income bracket” – one step higher than just being “poor.”
The majority of poor people do not work, but this includes children and the elderly. Among 18 – 64 year-olds who are not disabled or in school with an income below the poverty level for 2014, 54% worked at least sometime during the past year
Are wages or jobs the problem for the working poor?
The connection between the labor market and poverty is complex, with high stable wages being able to keep many out of it. However, there continues a trend in the U.S. where low rates for full-time work have left families below their own country’s official threshold. It can make them feel very vulnerable financially and emotionally.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 82% percent of poor workers and work full time had experienced at least one major labor market problem. The most common problems were low earnings, with 67%. This means there is a high chance you could be struggling financially without even knowing it!
One of the great questions in economics is what determines wages at different points on a wage distribution. One factor that can affect these rates is states with low-paying jobs, indicating higher poverty rates due to their lower pay levels for workers who do have opportunities available.
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