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BLS & Census Gov Doc/Data: A Profile of the Working Poor

In 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 46.5 million people, or 15.0 percent of the nation’s population, lived below the official poverty level. Although the poor were primarily children and adults who had not participated in the labor force during the year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10.6 million individuals were among the “working poor” in 2012; this measure was little changed from 2011.

 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 2012, the working-poor rate—the ratio of the working poor to all individuals in the labor force for at least 27 weeks—was 7.1 percent, little different from the previous year’s figure (7.0 percent) 

 This report presents data from 2013 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey on the relationship between labor force activity and poverty status in 2012 for workers and their families including:

  •  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.
  • Women were more likely than men to be among the working poor. In addition, Hispanics and Blacks continued to be more than twice as likely as Asians and Whites to be among the working poor.   
  • Among families with at least one member in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, those families with children under 18 years old were about 4 times more likely than those without children to live in poverty.
  • Families maintained by women were more likely than families maintained by men to be living below the poverty level.

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