Number Of ‘Working Poor’ Families Grows By 200,000

According to a new report, the number of families calssified as “working poor” — meaning they live in poverty despite the parents being employed — grew by 200,000 in 2011 (the latest data available from the Census Bureau). The Working Poor Families Project found that 10.4 million families live near poverty:

The result is 200,000 more such working families – the so-called “working poor” – emerged in 2011 than in 2010, according to the report, based on analysis of the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data.

About 10.4 million such families – or 47.5 million Americans – now live near poverty, defined as earning less than 200 percent of the official poverty rate, which is $22,811 for a family of four.

Overall, nearly one-third of working families now struggle, up from 31 percent in 2010 and 28 percent in 2007, when the recession began, according to the analysis.

“As the economy has improved one would expect that the benefits of that improvement would to some extent tie to these low-income families, and we’d see a decrease or at least a stabilization in the numbers,” said the report’s co-author, Brandon Roberts. “But the reality, the data show that the benefits of — even though it’s modest economic growth — it’s not going to these low-income families.” Overall, the poverty rate stabilized in 2011, despite analysts’ predictions that it would rise.

The number of Americans living in extreme poverty is up by 50 percent since 2000. Just three other countries in the developed world (Mexico, Chile, and Turkey) have a higher rate of child poverty than the U.S.