Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Who Are the Working Poor?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of working poor* in the United States increased slightly between 2006 and 2007 to 7.5 million people, up from 7.4 million in 2006. The working poor accounted for 5.1 percent of all people who were in the labor force 27 weeks or more in 2007.

Younger people were more likely to be poor. The working poor rate by age group peaks at 10.6 percent for those ages 20 to 24, and then declines with each successive age group.

Nationally, more women were considered working poor than men in 2007, at 3.9 million and 3.6 million, respectively. In addition, women who head families were more than twice as likely to be among the working poor as men who head families.

Workers with higher levels of education are less likely to be among the working poor. Very few college graduates were among the working poor (1.3%), while 16.5 percent of those with less than a high school diploma fit this description.

How the current recession will affect the working poor remains to be seen.... It is likely that the number involuntarily working part time will surge in 2008 and 2009, as full-time work becomes scarcer.

*Definition of working poor: Individuals who were in the labor force for at least 27 weeks during the year, but still had incomes below the official poverty level.

To learn more about the working poor, read the full article written by economist Jessica Nelson.

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