April 23, 2002
People who work full-time—35 hours or more per week—are far less likely to live in poverty than are others. However, almost 3.4 million who were in the labor force at least half of 2000 and usually worked in full-time jobs were classified as working poor.
There are three labor market problems experienced by these workers: Low earnings, unemployment, and involuntary part-time employment. Low earnings was the most common problem, with 73 percent of these workers facing it, either alone or in conjunction with other labor market problems. About 30 percent of the working poor experienced unemployment, either alone or in conjunction with other problems.
About 25 percent of full-time wage and salary workers classified among the working poor had experienced two or more of the primary labor market problems. The most common combinations were of low earnings and one of the others.
The data in this report are from the Current Population Survey. As defined in this report, the working poor are individuals who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force (working or looking for work), but whose incomes fell below the official poverty level. For more information on the working poor, see A Profile of the Working Poor, 2000 (BLS Report 957).
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Most full-timers among working poor have one labor market problem on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2002/apr/wk4/art02.htm (visited May 03, 2016).
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Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.