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Bar graph showing percent of working families below the poverty line and below 200% of the poverty line each year from 2007 to 2011. In 2011, 10.6% below poverty line, 32.1% below 200% of poverty line.
More than 10 percent of working families were below the poverty line in 2011, and nearly a third weren't earning double the poverty threshold, a new report from the Working Poor Families Project finds. Mitt Romney, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, take note:
There is a common misconception—magnified during the recent presidential election—that low-income families are “takers” who do not work, instead relying on government assistance to meet their needs. But in 2011, more than 7 in 10 low-income families and half of all poor families were working. They simply didn’t earn enough money to pay for basic living expenses.
That's 10.4 million low-income working families, with 47.5 million members. There are a lot of things that could be said about this, but for me, numbers like this boil down to one plain truth: If you work, you shouldn't be poor. In arguing for a just and equitable society, I would go far beyond that statement. We should be able to do better than merely work paying more than poverty wages, we should be able to say that work pays enough that you don't live in fear of being bankrupted by one medical emergency, enough that you can take a vacation every now and then, enough that retirement isn't a pipe dream. But we are where we are. And a nation in which more than 10 percent of families work but are still poor is a nation that's broken.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 12:14 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Working, poor, and hunry? (12+ / 0-)

    Do you qualify for food stamps?

    Thanks as always, Laura. Tipped and rec'ed.

    I get to choose, and I choose love.

    by Melanie in IA on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 12:16:41 PM PST

  •  Hand to mouth, hand to mouth (6+ / 0-)

    Makes em easier to control

    --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

    by idbecrazyif on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 12:41:52 PM PST

  •  I think another number worth mentioning (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is the median household net worth, which is $66,740.  Assuming you rent and all that worth is in financial assets (to make the math easy), that's about 3 years worth of living at the poverty level, and probably tends not to last nearly that long, since a family with that much in savings probably was spending more than the poverty level previously.

    Given the fact that in some states, most families eligible for unemployment benefits don't get them, either because of stigmatization or deliberately making it hard to get unemployment benefits, this isn't much of a safety net in a prolonged recession.

    •  That's assuming a lot (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      M Montroy

      median though it means middle of the pack could mean that half have zero and half have $132K.

      Most people who rent out here run short by payday.

      Most aren't eligible for unemployment not because of stigma or difficulty of getting them it's just because we aren't legally eligible. You can't be self employed and collect.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 06:19:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's something I just saw on Twitter (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, BusyinCA
    @mattyglesias WSJ an early leader for worst info-graphic of 2013
    WSJ graphic 1-13
    How will the fiscal cliff impact you? The Wall Street Journal offers this helpful infographic detailing the impact of higher taxes on a wide range of affluent Americans, including a typical single mom trying to raise two kids on merely quintuple the median household income.

    “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

    by skohayes on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 04:03:17 PM PST

    •  That is so wrong, I have no words... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "The road may be longer, but we travel it together." -- BHO

      by BusyinCA on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 01:33:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The WSJ is writing to its readership (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      winsock, WillR

      Although I understand the point you're making, Skohayes, minimum wage earners (as one example) generally don't read that paper.  I can't really blame any publication for writing to its readers, rather than writing to an unreachable audience.  

      To murkify my example with yet more examples, in my lengthy but failing memory, Smithsonian Magazine has never once featured a lead story on cross stitching.  At the same time, I very much doubt that Cross Stitchery World (assuming there is such a mag) runs stories on ancient steam engines or the Boer Wars.  The WSJ is writing to its audience, which is generally above median income.

      Happy After Shabbos Eve, and a good week to y'all.

      שני אנשים חכמים אינו יכולים להסכים

      by Not A Bot on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:18:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It would really help (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    M Montroy, jalapenopopper

    if you could add some dollar amounts to 100% of poverty level and 200% of poverty level. Poverty sucked when I was there and I'm sure it still sucks, but how much?

    If you are using the same numbers I found then about 10% of households have an annual income less than $23k and a little over 30% of household have an income level less than $46k.

    A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by notrouble on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 06:14:18 PM PST

  •  We work our asses off, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ekdog, Not A Bot, winsock

    but we're sinking fast.

    I've been at the same blue-collar job for nearly eight years and I'm still barely pulling $21K a year.

    My wife is technically self-employed: a tattoo artist for 12 years who relies largely on the disposable incomes of others. She puts in at least 12 hours a day, often with nothing to show for it these days. Most people don't have disposable income any more, it seems.

    My paltry bi-weekly take-home pay is not enough to keep our family afloat. We've given up extras, like cable & internet (we're running out our phone contract, which is the only way I can visit DKos); in the past two weeks, we've had our gas, power and water cut off (they're back now, except the gas; we're using the fireplace instead); soon we'll be forced to give up our daughter's karate lessons (we haven't told her yet because this will likely break her heart).

    My point is this: I've put almost a decade into a job I believed would pay off over time. My wife has put more than ten years into a business she's good at, also believing it would one day pay off. But STILL we struggle, after spending so much time and energy into chasing what we were told was the American dream. It's gotten us nowhere, despite our efforts, despite our nation's promise.

    That dream is quickly becoming a nightmare, just as it already has for so many. We never wanted to be rich; we only ever wanted enough to be comfortable, and secure enough to give our daughter what she needed so she could chase her own dreams.

    We've just hit middle-age. I figure I can keep doing my physical job another decade or so. My fear is that it's too late for us.

    But we are determined that it will NOT be too late for our daughter, who has that same decade looming ahead looming ahead of her before she legally takes responsibility for herself.

    For her, we won't give up. Ever.

    There are two types of Republicans: millionaires and suckers.

    by Phil T Duck on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 07:52:57 PM PST

    •  I am truly, deeply sorry to read (2+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      winsock, jalapenopopper
      Hidden by:

      of your family's struggles, Phil, and you're very painfully obviously not alone in your situation.  There are ways that a person who has very little to work with can earn a bit of extra money without neglecting family, without taking a second or third job outside the home.  You just have to find a niche.  

      I helped a neighbor set up an eBay store last year (no, I don't work for eBay or it's affiliates, and there are other selling sites that will work as well).  She's a single mom whose husband committed suicide in an effort to save their farm.  He succeeded.  She doesn't have to pay a mortgage because her husband's death benefits took care of that, but she was left with no way to pay for utilities, food, clothing for the kids, and so on.  

      The secret I shared with her?  Go to every thrift shop in this county and several others nearby, once a week, and you know those shelves of three-for-a-dollar hardbacks and 10-for-a-dollar paperbacks?  She buys them all, or at least all of the recent ones, as well as any classics that show up, and also books like auto repair manuals (Chiltons, for example -- they sell fast, and for a good price).  And then she sells them online, and nets a couple bucks per book, or better.  

      The first two months or so, she struggled, and then she learned to buy what sold, and not waste time with the unsellable books.  I think in July last year she cleared a bit over $100 from the initial $50 I'd given her.  She took that $100 and put most of it back into new inventory.  She's learned to watch the display cases at thrift shops for 50-cent sterling rings and the like, and then sells them for the going rate for the metal, and sometimes higher.  

      Last time I saw her, she and her kids had me over for Christmas dinner to thank me for my two-bit advice, and then she sat the kids down to ask me why Christmas isn't a holiday celebrated by my people.  Interesting after-dinner conversation.  Anyway, that day she told me she'd cleared $850 in the first three weeks of December.  Not a bad start.

      Phil, I'm not rich, not even close, but I guess I've been in that category a few times in my life.  I've also been so poor that I fed my younger brothers and went to bed without meals, many times, even though I was the one who was working to support the family after first our father and then later our stepfather died.

      You learn to work with what you have.  The point of my long-winded reply to your post is that I hope you never give up hope.  Look for a door where there seems to be only a wall.  Look for a niche, a specialty that nobody in your area is working, and then make it work.  Guys your age, and G-d help me, guys my age, have to look beyond the traditional career track.

      I truly wish and hope the best for you and your family.  G-d bless, and hang in there.

      שני אנשים חכמים אינו יכולים להסכים

      by Not A Bot on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:58:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When both the Congress and the Oval Office is out- (0+ / 0-)

    Right owned by Big Financial Firms, you know this isn't going to change.

    Not this year, not a decade from now. No matter which Big Money Candidate a person voted for in November, that person was owned by people like Jack Lew.

    Currently 49 cents out of every single dollar of profit created in this nation of ours ends up in the coffers of the Big Banking Cabal. Back in the terrible eighties, even Ron Reagan didn't allow a situation wherein more than nine cents out of every dollar of profit went to Big Banking.

    I know - loyalists to the Democratic Political Machinery want to say it is the fault of the Republicans. So please - would somebody tell me just which Republican told Obama fourteen days after his first election (in late November 2008) that he had to install Geithner in Treasury... Anyone know which Republican forced him to do that?

    Or which Republican forced Obama to re-appoint Bernanke to the top spot at the Federal Reserve?

    Obama might be helpful on social issues like women's reproductive and health rights (Which should be a given, like breathing oxygen is a given.) But he sucks at the financial end of things. And in order for any nation to remain a democracy, there must be a vibrant middle class.

    Got Oligarchy?!?

    Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

    by Truedelphi on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 01:00:50 PM PST

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