Publication Date



In 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 46.2 million people, or 15.0 percent of the nation’s population, lived below the official poverty level.1 Although the poor were primarily children and adults who had not participated in the labor force during the year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10.4 million individuals were among the “working poor” in 2011; this measure was little changed from 2010. The working poor are persons who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force (that is, working or looking for work) but whose incomes still fell below the official poverty level. In 2011, the working-poor rate—the ratio of the working poor to all individuals in the labor force for at least 27 weeks— was 7.0 percent, slightly below the previous year’s figure (7.2 percent). (See tables A and 1 and chart 1.)


Suggested Citation
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2013). A profile of the working poor, 2011. Washington, DC: Author.