An update on poverty from the Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution, Who Was Poor in the United States in 2017, found that 12.3% of the U.S. population, or 39.7 million residents, lived in poverty in 2017. One-third of those living in poverty were children, 22% were working-age adults in the labor force, 16% were working-age caregivers or students, 12% were seniors, and 11% were disabled. The fact that more than 90% of people in poverty are children, seniors, disabled persons, students, caregivers, or people already in the labor force indicates that many who are poor face barriers to working their way out of poverty.
Of the working-age population between 18 and 64, 41% were in the labor force, 20% were disabled, 15% were caregivers, 14% were students, and 7% were early retirees. One in ten (11%) working-age adults living in poverty worked full-time. Twenty-six percent worked part-time and 4% were looking for work. Of those working part-time, 29% preferred full-time work but could not find it, 46% were students or caregivers, and 5% were disabled. The percentage of working-age poor adults who worked part-time but preferred full-time work declined by 3.2 percentage points between 2016 and 2017, indicating an increase in employment.
The authors note that the strong job market has helped poor individuals with employment. Full-time work, however, does not always provide sufficient income. In addition, many poor individuals face barriers to work. The authors call for more targeted anti-poverty interventions.
Who Was Poor in the United States in 2017 is available at: https://bit.ly/2C9rHQ6