The working poor, continued
Title: Working...And Poor - In today's cutthroat job market, the bottom rung is as high as most workers will ever get. But the political will to help them seems a long way off
Source: Business Week
Date: May 31, 2004
From the article:
- Working one's way up from the bottom is getting harder, not easier. And the difficulty may get more severe.
- Overall, 63% of U.S. families below the federal poverty line have one or more workers, according to the Census Bureau. They're not just minorities, either; nearly 60% are white. About a fifth of the working poor are foreign-born, mostly from Mexico. And the majority possess high school diplomas and even some college -- which 30 years ago would virtually have assured them a shot at the middle class.
- Today more than 28 million people, about a quarter of the workforce between the ages of 18 and 64, earn less than $9.04 an hour, which translates into a full-time salary of $18,800 a year -- the income that marks the federal poverty line for a family of four.
- A 2003 study of 1990s mobility by two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that the chances that poor Americans would stay stuck in their strata had increased vs. the 1970s. Given the economy's strong showing in the '90s, that's a concern. "If current trends persist, a greater and greater share of wealth will keep going into the hands of the few, which will destroy initiative," worries James D. Sinegal, CEO of Costco Wholesale Corp., which offers above-average pay and benefits in the retail sector. "We'll no longer have a motivated working class."