Working poor

These are the people Obama exhorts to get “skin in the game.” Even the people I know who still have “real” jobs are worried all the time, because life is so precarious now:

There are 10.4 million American households  that qualify as working poor, according to an economic analysis reported in Reuters.  This amounts to more than 47 million Americans living in “near poverty,” defined as earning less than twice the official poverty rate, $22,811 for a family of four.

The recession officially ended in 2009 and unemployment levels have slowly receded, but income inequality continues to grow as more workers taking low wage service jobs, many of them without benefits. The report, put out by The Working Poor Project, found that ”nearly one-third of working families now struggle, up from 31 percent in 2010 and 28 percent in 2007, when the recession began.”


“Although many people are returning to work, they are often taking jobs with lower wages and less job security, compared with the middle-class jobs they held before the economic downturn,” the report said.

“This means that nearly a third of all working families … may not have enough money to meet basic needs.”

In 2011, the top 20 percent of Americans earned 48 percent of the total income while only five percent of earnings went to the bottom 20 percent.

The number of working poor is not spread out evenly across the country; the situation for the working poor is worse in low service states like Arizona, Nevada, South Carolina and Georgia, the latter of which is making an aggressive effort to purge its welfare rolls. The state has 300,000 people below the poverty line and only 4,000 on welfare.

3 Responses to Working poor

  1. Brad January 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Hi Susie,

    I would like to propose a meme that needs distributing …

    The answer to income inequality, poverty, AND the great big scary Deficit Bugbear is…

    …raise the fkng minimum wage already, raise it every year indexed to inflation + 0.5%, and make that automatic.

    Conservatives complain about rich ppl paying all the taxes and poor not pulling their weight. Well its true, but for the wrong reasons. Poor ppl pay no taxes because they are poor!

    Raise their wages, and they will start paying taxes – budget deficit reduced.
    (Specifically, at higher incomes, they will be eligible for fewer tax credits, and have more income subject to taxation after the standard deduction so less govt tax expenditures and more taxes collected)

    They will have more money to spend – economic growth increased, deficit reduced again (rich ppl with more money has been amply demonstrated to be a net negative to growth, they just plow it into financial games and bubbles).

    Combine this with strict enforcement of existing workplace rules to prevent employers hiring undocumented immigrants off the books at less-than-minimum wages (go after the employers, not the workers) – immigration debate solves itself.

    Can you see the advantages, and if so, can you help filter this meme up into the blogoverse?



  2. quixote January 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    But, but, but, but, Brad! That involves money moving downward. Isn’t that illegal? Or something?

    (Seriously? Yeah. Absolutely. Go, meme!)

  3. Ron January 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    “300,000 people below the poverty line and only 4,000 on welfare” That’s exactly the goal of austerity and the outcome of 50 years of Corporate corruption of our political system. 296,000 people who have no choice but to do anything, absolutely anything, just to live. Skin in the game? Yeah, the Walton’s and Koch Bro’s (with starring roles by Congress and the White House) game, our skin.

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