Overall, nearly 1 in 3 working families were earning less than 200 percent of the poverty level in 2013. But the differences by race and ethnicity were stark. Less than 1 in 4 white working families found themselves below that threshold, while more than 1 in 2 Latino families — and nearly 1 in 2 black families — did.
“In a little more than a generation, racial/ethnic minorities will make up the majority of the U.S. population and labor force. Minority workers will play a critical role in keeping Social Security and Medicare solvent. But if current levels of inequality persist, younger workers and their families will not be able to move into the middle class and replace retiring baby boomers in the workforce,” the report’s authors conclude. Working families were defined as those whose members collectively worked three out of four weeks throughout the previous year. The 200 percent poverty threshold in 2013 was $47,248 for a four-person family with two children.
Differences in jobs, wages, education, family structure and benefits may contribute, the authors write. As The Post’s Michael Fletcher reports:
The report said that nearly half of all low-income working families—and nearly three out of four low-income black working families—are headed by single parents. Also, more than half of low-income Hispanic families had at least one parent who did not complete high school. By contrast, just 16 percent of white workers were high school dropouts.Still, educational differences explain just part of the income gap, as white workers tend to earn higher wages than blacks and Hispanics at every educational level. The report, which is based on Census statistics, found that the median earnings for white high school dropouts working full time was $31,606—which was higher than the $31,061 earned by black high school graduates in full-time jobs.
To foster a better educated workforce, states can target minority populations by providing students — adult or otherwise — with tuition assistance, child care, career guidance and opportunities and training, they write. States can also boost income and savings by raising the minimum wage, expanding the earned income tax credit, offering paid sick leave, enforcing equal pay provisions and expanding access to retirement savings plans.
Here’s a state-by-state look at the share of all, white, minority, black and Hispanic working families below that poverty threshold, in that order. The color scheme is the same in each to better show differences by race and ethnicity.