- The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP) "is a national
initiative focused on state workforce development policies involving: (1)
education and skills training for adults; (2) economic development; and
(3) income and work supports."
- Its newest publication is titled, "Great Recession
Hit Hard at America's Working Poor: Nearly 1 in 3 Working Families in United
States are Low-Income." It explains distressing data on the state
of America's poor and low income families, their condition getting worse,
- Citing new US Census data, it said nearly one-third of
US families struggle to meet basic needs. Between 2007 and 2009, the percent
of low-income families (earning less than 200% of the official threshold)
rose from 28 - 30%. Their plight "challenges a fundamental assumption
that in America, work pays." Clearly, not enough.
- Though mostly invisible to policymakers, they comprise
the economy's backbone working cash registers, cleaning homes and businesses,
preparing restaurant and hotel food, caring for children and the elderly,
as well as numerous other low-paid, poor benefits service jobs, increasingly
temporary or part-time.
- Key study findings included:
- -- over 10 million low-income families represented nearly
a 4% increase over the previous year;
- -- 45 million people, including 22 million children,
live in low-income families, up 1.7 million from 2008;
- -- 43% with at least one minority parent households were
low-income, nearly double the percentage for white families at 22%;
- -- income inequality kept growing with the richest 20%
earning 47% of all income, 10 times that of lowest earners;
- -- the number of children in low-income families rose
by over 700,000 from 2008, one third of all children in the country; and
- -- according to recent Pew Research Center data, 55%
of America's labor force "suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut
in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers"
since December 2007.
- As a result, many middle class families "fell into
the low income trap," their numbers growing annually. In addition,
unemployment and underemployment hit hard, especially with fewer better-paying
full-time jobs, offshored to cheap labor markets or not available because
companies cut payrolls to increase profits.
- Measuring the full impact on working families is hard
to gauge because broader social, economic, structural, and demographic
factors are at work, many predating the current crisis, making current
- At the same time, Wall Street and other corporate favorites
got trillions of dollars in handouts. The largest ever defense appropriation
bill passed (officially $725 billion, but, in fact, around double that
amount, including supplementary add-ons, black budgets and more), and America's
aristocracy got a holiday stocking-stuffer worth the lion share of Obama's
yearend tax cut of up to $1 trillion by some estimates.
- In contrast, temporary unemployment benefits were extended,
and a destructive 2% payroll tax was enacted, a stealth scheme to drain
hundreds of billions from the Social Security Trust Fund to wreck it and
destroy the system altogether. At the same time, 2011 austerity cuts are
planned, hitting entitlements hard when they should be generously increased.
- Other data are also troublesome, including a new Rockefeller
Foundation/Yale University Political Science Professor Jacob Hacker study,
titled "Standing on Shaky Ground: Americans' Experiences with Economic
Insecurity," described as "the first study to detail how economic
insecurity affects the well-being of Americans."
- It said in the 18 months preceding fall 2009, 93% of
households experienced at least one "substantial economic shock."
- "This new report shows the extent to which American
families have been rocked by economic shocks whose consequences include
not just worry but also real economic hardship. This report dashes the
notion that economic disruption is limited to low-income families by revealing
that many middle-class and even upper-middle class (ones) are unable to
meet basic needs."
- Across the board, misery measures are rising, including
unemployment, homelessness, hunger, food stamp usage, and inadequate income
for essentials. While America's aristocracy gets richer, middle and lower
income workers struggle to get by. Many can't because policy initiatives
are few and inadequate.
- WPFP explains that:
- "The divide between higher and lower-income families
goes beyond economics. Increasingly, families from different economic strata
are also sorted into different neighborhoods, schools, and social networks.
These families and their children are at risk of becoming isolated from
educational and economic opportunities that could provide a path out of
- Instead, growing numbers are getting poorer and more
in need at a time less aid is allocated to help them. It's a shocking indictment
of a dysfunctional system, the America dream gone bust except for society's
- Increasing Poverty in Israel
- A new Tel Aviv-based Latet "alternative poverty
study" revealed that 1.77 million Israelis are poor. About 850,000
children live in poverty, and 75% of impoverished Israelis miss meals because
of cost, a 21% increase from 2009. In addition, 83% of poor children skip
dental care, and 22% said their financial distress prompted suicide thoughts.
- Moreover, 69% of poor people lack food nutritional security,
meaning not enough to sustain good health. About 5% of children beg for
money, 8% steal food of necessity, and half survive solely on "bread
- Even employed individuals need help. Included are about
30% of the working poor as well as 60% of those unemployed, especially
over three years.
- Published annually, Latet "seeks to present the
human face of (Israeli) poverty and the poor (who) hide behind the dry
figures and statistics published by government institutions."
- Executive Director Eran Weintraub said:
- "Throughout the last decade, poverty in Israel has
significantly increased. Social gaps widened and the obstacles to escaping
poverty have increased. Netanyahu's macroeconomic neoliberal policy have
improved the economy, but it abandoned and neglected (growing numbers of)
people," Arabs and Jews.
- "In any other enlightened place in the world, the
failure of our anti-social policy would long have justified a civilian
rebellion, but the poor in Israel have no political power. We hope to soon
begin the change which will be a civilian protest that will lead the fight
- Latet works with 150 Israeli soup kitchens serving 60,000
of 223,000 poor families with 530,000 impoverished children. Israeli prosperity
masks its dark side, hidden from the West, especially Americans fed one-sided
Israeli propaganda, devoid of truth.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays
at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs
are archived for easy listening.