A new report by The Working Poor Families Project examines the large and growing economic divide among America’s 32.6 million working families, with whites and Asians at the top and other racial/ethnic groups—particularly blacks and Latinos—falling behind.
In 2013, there were 10.6 million low-income working families in America—racial/ethnic minorities constitute 58 percent of this group, despite only making up 40 percent of all working families nationwide. In addition, working families headed by racial/ethnic minorities were twice as likely to be poor or low-income (47 percent) compared with non-Hispanic whites (23 percent)—a gap that has increased since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007. There are significant state and regional variations in the economic well-being of minority working families as well.
The report calls on state policy leaders to address this economic divide, offering policy recommendations that address these inequalities, improve conditions for millions of lower-income parents and their children and promote economic growth.
America’s growing immigrant community is a significant and sizable part of the labor force. Many immigrants understand that English proficiency is key to a better economic future, yet the opportunities to obtain the education and skills needed to become productive workers are limited. This policy brief by The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP) calls for states to strengthen their state adult education policies and programs to ensure sufficient opportunities are available for English as a Second Language (ESL) populations. In doing so, the policy brief identifies three key areas warranting attention:
Millions of American breadwinners work hard to support their families. But, despite their effort, almost one in three working families are mired in low-wage jobs that provide inadequate benefits and offer little opportunity for advancement and economic security. Compounding the problem are public policies that do not adequately prepare workers to advance to higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs or promote the creation of quality jobs.
The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP) was launched in 2002 by national philanthropic leaders who saw the need to strengthen state policies affecting these working families. This national initiative is now supported by the Annie E. Casey, Ford, Joyce and Kresge foundations. WPFP focuses on the states because their policies and investments critically affect the lives of working families.
The WPFP is active in 22 states and the District of Columbia. In each state the WPFP partners with one or more nonprofit organizations to strengthen state policies to better prepare America's working families for a more secure economic future.
Michigan League for Public Policy
Willing to Work and Ready to Learn: More Adult Education Would Strengthen Michigan's Economy (March 2015)
Download the report (pdf)