New Study on the Working Poor

Alarming data from a new report reveals that in 2006 – well before the worsening economic downturn – more than one out of four working families nationwide is low-income. The study, “Working Hard, Still Falling Short,” also documents that 21 million children live in low-income working households nationwide, and that income inequality among working families increased nearly 10 percent between 2002 and 2006.

The report, prepared by the Working Poor Families Project in collaboration with state and local organizations, also includes data about the worsening situation of working poor families in New York state. Among the key findings are the following:

* In 2006, 69 percent of working poor families in New York spent more than one third of their income on housing, compared to 59 percent of such families in 2002;
* Nearly one-third (31 percent) of children in New York lived in low-income working families in 2006; and
* Income inequality among working families in New York was worse than in any other state. In 2006, families in the top 20 percent made 11.5 times as much as families in the bottom 20 percent, a ratio that is almost a third higher than the national average.

The New York Times’ City Room blog has a good summary of the report’s findings. With the national and local economies entering a deeper recession, there is every reason to expect additional hardships for New York City’s working poor.