In 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 43.1 million people, or 13.5 percent of the nation’s population, lived below the official poverty level.1 (See the technical notes section for examples of poverty levels.) Although the poor were primarily children and adults who had not participated in the labor force during the year, 8.6 million individuals were among the “working poor” in 2015, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; the 8.6 million figure was down from 9.5 million in 2014. The working poor are people who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force (that is, working or looking for work) but whose incomes still fell below the official poverty level. In 2015, the working-poor rate—the ratio of the working poor to all individuals in the labor force for at least 27 weeks—was 5.6 percent, 0.7 percentage point lower than the previous year’s figure.
Following are some highlights from the 2015 data:
Full-time workers continued to be much less likely to be among the working poor than were part-time workers. Among persons in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, 3.4 percent of those usually employed full time were classified as working poor, compared with 14.1 percent of part-time workers (table 1).
Women were more likely than men to be among the working poor. In addition, Blacks and Hispanics continued to be more than twice as likely as Whites and Asians to be among the working poor (table 2).
The likelihood of being classified as working poor diminishes as workers attain higher levels of education. Among those with less than a high school diploma, 16.2 percent of those who were in the labor force for at least 27 weeks were classified as working poor, compared with 1.7 percent of college graduates (table 3).
Individuals who were employed in service occupations continued to be more likely to be among the working poor than those employed in other major occupational groups (table 4).
Among families with at least one member in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, those with children under 18 years old were about 5 times as likely as those without children to live in poverty. Families maintained by women were almost twice as likely as families maintained by men to be living below the poverty level (table 5).
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at A Profile of the Working Poor, 2015 : BLS Reports: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics