The Common Good
February 2005

All Work, No Pay

by Rose Marie Berger, Mark Betz | February 2005

While President Bush pledges to reduce poverty through tax reform, the number of low-income Americans-especially the working poor-continues to skyrocket, according to the "Working Hard, Falli

While President Bush pledges to reduce poverty through tax reform, the number of low-income Americans-especially the working poor-continues to skyrocket, according to the "Working Hard, Falling Short" report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in October 2004. To be considered low-income, a family of four earned less than $36,784 in 2002. (The median income for a family of four was $62,732.) Of the 9.2 million low-income working families, 2.5 million are officially in poverty-earning less than $18,392 for a family of four. This contradicts assumptions that anyone can succeed in the U.S. economy by getting an education, getting married, and working hard.

  • 1 in 4 working families is low-income.
  • 40 percent of minority working families are low-income, twice the percentage of white working families.
  • 33 percent. Of all children in working families, 1/3 are in low-income working families.
  • 50 percent. A married couple heads more than 1/2 of low-income working families.
  • 42 percent of low-income working families have a parent with some post-secondary education.
  • One-fifth of all jobs in the United States won't keep a family of four above the poverty level and provide few or no benefits.

Source: "Working Hard, Falling Short: America's Working Families and the Pursuit of Economic Security" (Working Poor Families Project, October 2004).

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