Working-age adults now make up the lion’s share of U.S. poor.
"There is a lot of discussion about what the aging of the baby boom should mean for spending on Social Security and Medicare,” Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty, told The Fiscal Times.
“But there is not much discussion about how the wages of workers, especially those with no more than a high school degree, are not rising.”
The reality, says Danziger, is that “there are going to be a lot of working poor for the foreseeable future."
Currently, the numbers of the working-age poor are at the highest level since the 1960s when the war on poverty was launched.
When adults between the ages of 18-64 who were laid off in the recent recession and single twenty-somethings still looking for jobs are both counted, the new working-age poor represent nearly 3 out of 5 poor people — a switch from the early 1970s when children made up the main impoverished group.
If, when new census figures for 2010 are released next week, there’s a continued increase in the overall poverty rate due to persistently high unemployment last year, 2011 will be the fourth year in a row in which the U.S. poverty rate, which now stands at 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million people, has increased.
Census numbers show that out of 8.8 million families who are currently poor, about 60 percent had at least one person who was working.
The New York Times reports that nearly 20 percent of American adults work in poverty-level jobs.
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