Laura Hayes, 202-577-3062
Ed Hatcher, 301-379-2169
America’s Working Families Continue to Fall Behind
New Report Finds One in Four Working
Families are Low-Income
There will be a conference call with the authors of “Still Working
Hard, Still Falling Short” on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 1 p.m.
EDT. Please call 1-866-305-2467, code 381405.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than one in four working
families – a total of 42 million adults and children – are
low-income, earning too little to meet their basic needs, according
to a new report.
“Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short,” a follow-up to the 2004
report “Working Hard, Falling Short,” found that an additional
350,000 working families were low-income in 2006 compared to 2002.
The report also found increasing income inequality, with a widening
gap between the share of income the highest-earning families receive
and that earned by the least affluent. This increase in income
disparity and in the number of low-income working families came
during a period of economic expansion, suggesting that those numbers
will continue to grow during this economic downturn.
“Understandably, all eyes today are focused on the financial and
economic crisis affecting America’s working families,” said Brandon
Roberts, report author. “But the stark reality is that America’s
working families have been in economic crisis long before this
“Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short” was produced by the
Working Poor Families Project, a national initiative supported by
the Annie E. Casey, Ford, Joyce, and C.S. Mott Foundations to
examine the conditions of America’s working families.
The report provides in-depth national and 50 state data on
low-income working families and the challenges they face, including
information about education levels, racial makeup, the number of
children, housing costs and health insurance coverage.
“Low-income working families pay a higher percentage of their income
for housing than other working families and are far less likely to
have health insurance,” according to the report. “At the same time,
low-income working families work hard. Adults in low-income working
families worked an average of 2,552 hours per year in 2006, the
equivalent of almost one and a quarter full-time workers per
Inadequate education plays a major role in preventing low-income
workers from climbing the economic ladder, the report found. While
almost half of all job openings require more than a high school
education, 88 million adult workers are not prepared for these
positions. According to the report, federal and state resources for
adult education or skills development programs meet only about
one-tenth of the need.
The report calls for stronger policies for
working families at both the state and federal levels and highlights
state policies that invest in skills development programs, increase
their minimum wage above the federal wage standard, and support
initiatives such as paid parental level for family and medical
“State actions are only part of the answer. The federal government
has a role and responsibility to ensure that all hard-working
families have a true opportunity for economic advancement and
success,” according to the report. Four specific recommendations for
federal policies are included in the report, which focus on
increasing economic opportunities through better education, wages
and job quality.
Additional report findings include:
- In 13 states, 33 percent or more of
working families are low-income, while in Mississippi and New
Mexico, more than 40 percent of working families are low-income.
- In 2006, California and Texas had more
that a million low-income working families, while Florida and
New York each had more than half a million.
- In 13 states, 50 percent or more of
minority working families are low-income.
- Nationally, more than one in five jobs –
22 percent – pays wages that fall below the federal poverty
threshold. In eight states, more than a third of all jobs are in
For more information go to
Working Poor Families Project was launched in 2002. With assistance
from the Annie E. Casey, Ford, Joyce and C.S. Mott Foundations, this
national initiative annually examines the conditions of America’s
working families and supports state nonprofit organizations to
strengthen state policies in order to promote economic advancement
and success. The Working Poor Family Project operates in 24 states
and the District of Columbia.