Working But Poor in America


Suggested Citation
Parente, F. (1995). Working But Poor in America. AFL-CIO Reviews the Issues, 84 (Report No.).


At a time when the nation is wrestling with the question of reforming welfare and forging policies that bridge the gap between dependence and work, the fact is that, for millions, work does not allow them to provide a decent standard of living for their families. Three key reasons for the poverty of the working poor come from a recent report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): 1. Low earnings: Low-wage work with below poverty earnings was the biggest single cause of poverty. Low wages, low earnings, and low income trap millions of American working men and women in a vicious cycle of poverty. 2. Involuntary part-time work: If you want a fulltime job and a full-time paycheck, but you can only find part-time work, the odds are high that you will fall below the poverty line. 3. Unemployment: If you lose or can’t find a job, if you suffer spells of unemployment, the odds are high that your total earnings and your total income are going to be low, and you will be in poverty.