April 2016 Report 1060

A Profile of the Working Poor, 2014

A Profile of the Working Poor, 2014 image

In 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 46.7 million people, or 14.8 percent of the nation’s population, lived below the official poverty level.1 (See the technical notes section for examples of poverty levels.) Although the poor were primarily children and adults who had not participated in the labor force during the year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9.5 million individuals were among the “working poor” in 2014; this measure was down from 2013. The working poor are people who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force (that is, working or looking for work) but whose incomes still fell below the official poverty level. In 2014, the working-poor rate—the ratio of the working poor to all individuals in the labor force for at least 27 weeks—was 6.3 percent, down by 0.7 percentage point from the previous year’s figure. (See table A and 1 and chart 1.)

Following are additional highlights from the 2014 data:

  • Full-time workers continued to be less likely to be among the working poor than part-time workers. Among people in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, 4.1 percent of those usually employed full time were classified as working poor, compared with 13.5 percent of part-time workers.
  • Women were more likely than men to be among the working poor. In addition, Blacks and Hispanics continued to be more than twice as likely as Whites and Asians to be among the working poor.
  • The likelihood of being classified as working poor diminishes as workers attain higher levels of education. Among people with less than a high school diploma, 18.3 percent of those who were in the labor force for at least 27 weeks were classified as working poor, compared with 2.0 percent of college graduates.
  • Individuals who were employed in service occupations continued to be more likely to be among the working poor than those employed in other major occupational groups.
  • Among families with at least one member in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, those families with children under 18 years old were more than 4 times as likely as those without children to live in poverty. Families maintained by women were more likely than families maintained by men to be living below the poverty level.
Table A. Poverty status of people and primary families in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, 2007–14
(Numbers in thousands)
Characteristic20072008200920102011201220132014
Total in the labor force1146,567147,838147,902146,859147,475148,735149,483150,319

In poverty

7,5218,88310,39110,51210,38210,61210,4509,487

Working poor rate

5.16.07.07.27.07.17.06.3
Unrelated individuals33,22632,78533,79834,09933,73134,81035,06135,018

In poverty

2,5583,2753,9473,9473,6213,8514,1413,395

Working poor rate

7.710.011.711.610.711.111.89.7
Primary families265,15865,90765,46764,93166,22566,54166,46266,732

In poverty

4,1694,5385,1935,2695,4695,4785,1375,108

Working poor rate

6.46.97.98.18.38.27.77.7

1Includes individuals in families, not shown separately.

2Primary families with at least one member in the labor force for more than half the year.

Note: Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC).

This report presents data on the relationship between labor force activity and poverty status in 2014 for workers and their families. These data were collected in the 2015 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey. (For a detailed description of the source of the data and an explanation of the concepts and definitions used in this report, see the technical notes at the end of this report.) The specific income thresholds used to determine people’s poverty status vary, depending on whether the individuals are living with family members or are living alone or with nonrelatives. For family members, the poverty threshold is determined by their family’s total income; for individuals not living in families, their personal income is used as the determinant.

Demographic characteristics

Among those who were in the labor force for 27 weeks or more in 2014, the number of women classified as working poor (5.1 million) was higher than that of men (4.4 million). Similarly, the working poor rate continued to be higher for women (7.2 percent) than for men (5.5 percent). The working poor rates for both women and men were down from a year earlier. (See table 2).

Blacks and Hispanics were more than twice as likely as Whites and Asians to be among the working poor. In 2014, the working-poor rates of Blacks and Hispanics were both 11.7 percent, compared with 5.5 percent for Whites and 4.3 percent for Asians. (See chart 2 and table 2.)

 

Among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics, the working-poor rate was higher for women than for men. The rates for White women and men who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force were 5.9 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively. The rate for Black women was 14.6 percent, compared with 8.4 percent for Black men. Hispanic women and men had rates of 12.6 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively. Among Asians, the rates for women and men were little different from each other.

Young workers are more likely to be poor than are workers in older age groups, in part because earnings are lower for young workers, and the unemployment rate for young workers is higher. Among youths who were in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, 10.4 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds and 12.1 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds were living in poverty in 2014, considerably higher than the rate for workers age 35 to 44 (6.7 percent). Workers age 45 to 54, 55 to 64, and those age 65 and older had lower working-poor rates—4.8 percent, 3.3 percent, and 2.0 percent, respectively—than did the younger age groups.

Educational attainment

Achieving higher levels of education reduces the incidence of living in poverty. Individuals who complete more years of education usually have greater access to higher paying jobs—such as management, professional, and related occupations—than those with fewer years of education. Of all the people in the labor force for 27 weeks or more in 2014, those with less than a high school diploma had a higher working-poor rate (18.3 percent) than did high school graduates with no college (8.3 percent). Workers with an associate’s degree and those with a bachelor’s degree or higher had the lowest working-poor rates (4.6 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively). In 2014, at nearly all levels of educational attainment, women were more likely than men to be among the working poor; by race and ethnicity, Blacks and Hispanics generally were more likely to be among the working poor than were Whites and Asians. (See table 3.)

Occupation

The likelihood of being among the working poor varies widely by occupation. Workers in occupations requiring higher education and characterized by relatively high earnings—such as management, professional, and related occupations—were least likely to be classified as working poor, 1.9 percent in 2014. By contrast, individuals employed in occupations that typically do not require high levels of education and are characterized by relatively low earnings were more likely to be among the working poor. For example, 12.8 percent of service workers who were in the labor force for at least 27 weeks were classified as working poor in 2014. Indeed, service occupations, with 3.2 million working poor, accounted for 37 percent of all those classified as working poor. Among those employed in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations, 7.9 percent of workers were classified as working poor. Within this occupation group, 16.8 percent of workers employed in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations were among the working poor. (See table 4.)

Families

In 2014, the number of families living below the poverty level (5.1 million), despite having at least one member in the labor force for half the year or more, was unchanged from last year’s figure. Among families with only one member in the labor force for at least 27 weeks in 2014, married-couple families had a lower likelihood of living below the poverty level (9.3 percent) than did families maintained by women (26.1 percent) or by men (15.2 percent). (See table 5.)

Among families with at least one member in the labor force for more than half the year, those with children in the household were much more likely to live below the poverty level than those without children. The proportion of families with children under age 18 that lived in poverty was 12.1 percent, compared with 2.7 percent for families without children. Among families with children under 18, the working-poor rate for those maintained by women (27.2 percent) was higher than that for those maintained by men (16.0 percent). Married-couple families with children under 18 had a working-poor rate of 6.8 percent in 2014.

Unrelated individuals

The “unrelated individuals” category includes individuals who live by themselves or with others not related to them. Of the 35.0 million unrelated individuals who were in the labor force for half the year or longer, 3.4 million lived below the poverty level in 2014, a decrease from last year’s figure. The working-poor rate for unrelated individuals was 9.7 percent, down from 11.8 percent a year earlier. (See table 6.)

Within the group of unrelated individuals, teenagers continued to be the most likely to be among the working poor. In 2014, the working-poor rate was 36.5 percent for teens who were in the labor force for 27 weeks or more and who lived on their own or with others not related to them. Overall, the rate for men living alone or with nonrelatives (8.7 percent) was lower than the rate for women (11.0 percent). The working-poor rates for unrelated individuals were 13.9 percent for Hispanics, 13.7 percent for Blacks, 9.0 percent for Whites, and 6.3 percent for Asians. (See table 7.)

Of the 3.4 million unrelated individuals considered to be among the working poor in 2014, about three-fifths lived with others. These individuals had a much higher working-poor rate than individuals who lived alone (12.3 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively). Many unrelated individuals living below the poverty level may live with others out of necessity. Conversely, many of those who live alone do so because they have sufficient income to support themselves. Unrelated individuals’ poverty status, however, is determined by each person’s resources. The pooling of resources and sharing of living expenses may permit some individuals in this category—who are technically classified as poor—to live at a higher standard than they would have if they lived alone.

Labor market problems

As noted earlier, people who usually work full time are less likely to live in poverty than are those who work part time, yet there remains a sizable group of full-time workers who live below the poverty threshold. Among those who participated in the labor force for 27 weeks or more and usually worked in full-time wage and salary jobs, 4.4 million, or 3.8 percent, were classified as working poor in 2014—little changed from a year earlier. (See table 8.)

There are three major labor market problems that can hinder a worker’s ability to earn an income above the poverty threshold: low earnings, periods of unemployment, and involuntary part-time employment. (See the technical notes for detailed definitions.)

In 2014, 82 percent of the working poor who usually worked full time experienced at least one of the major labor market problems. Low earnings continued to be the most common problem, with 67 percent subject to low earnings, either as the major problem or in combination with other labor market problems. About 32 percent experienced unemployment as the main labor market problem or in conjunction with other problems. Four percent of the working poor experience all three problems: low earnings, unemployment, and involuntary part-time employment.

Some 819,000, or 18 percent, of the working poor who usually worked full time did not experience any of the three primary labor market problems in 2014. Their classification as working poor may be explained by other factors, including short-term employment, some weeks of voluntary part-time work, or a family structure that increases the risk of poverty.

Notes

1 Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014, Current Population Reports, P60-252 (U.S. Census Bureau, September 2015), table 3, at https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p60-252.pdf.

Statistical Tables

Table 1. People in the labor force: poverty status and work experience by weeks in the labor force, 2014
(Numbers in thousands)
Poverty status and work experience Total in the labor force 27 weeks or more in the labor force

Total

50 to 52 weeks

Total

 

Total in the labor force

162,757 150,319 137,122

Did not work during the year

3,701 2,028 1,649

Worked during the year

159,056 148,291 135,473

Usual full-time workers

126,566 122,314 114,966

Usual part-time workers

32,490 25,977 20,508

Involuntary part-time workers

8,454 7,328 6,261

Voluntary part-time workers

24,036 18,649 14,246

At or above poverty level

 

Total in the labor force

150,808 140,832 129,168

Did not work during the year

2,199 1,126 892

Worked during the year

148,609 139,706 128,275

Usual full-time workers

120,709 117,247 110,585

Usual part-time workers

27,900 22,460 17,691

Involuntary part-time workers

6,488 5,666 4,837

Voluntary part-time workers

21,412 16,794 12,854

Below poverty level

 

Total in the labor force

11,950 9,487 7,954

Did not work during the year

1,503 902 756

Worked during the year

10,447 8,585 7,198

Usual full-time workers

5,857 5,067 4,381

Usual part-time workers

4,591 3,518 2,817

Involuntary part-time workers

1,966 1,662 1,424

Voluntary part-time workers

2,625 1,855 1,393

Rate1

 

Total in the labor force

7.3 6.3 5.8

Did not work during the year

40.6 44.5 45.9

Worked during the year

6.6 5.8 5.3

Usual full-time workers

4.6 4.1 3.8

Usual part-time workers

14.1 13.5 13.7

Involuntary part-time workers

23.3 22.7 22.7

Voluntary part-time workers

10.9 9.9 9.8

1Number below the poverty level as a percentage of the total in the labor force.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC).

Table 2. People in the labor force for 27 weeks or more: poverty status by age, gender, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 2014
(Numbers in thousands)
Age and gender Total White Black or African American Asian Hispanic or Latino ethnicity Below poverty level Rate1

Total

White

Black or African American

Asian

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

Total

White

Black or African American

Asian

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

Total, 16 years and older

150,319 118,831 18,076 8,747 24,335 9,487 6,503 2,112 379 2,843 6.3 5.5 11.7 4.3 11.7

16 to 19 years

3,303 2,581 414 118 687 343 235 71 10 88 10.4 9.1 17.1 8.7 12.8

20 to 24 years

13,234 10,129 1,959 544 2,816 1,605 1,140 367 39 363 12.1 11.2 18.8 7.2 12.9

25 to 34 years

33,239 25,397 4,420 2,181 6,513 2,762 1,757 722 101 872 8.3 6.9 16.3 4.6 13.4

35 to 44 years

31,936 24,516 4,084 2,213 6,161 2,134 1,468 453 95 818 6.7 6.0 11.1 4.3 13.3

45 to 54 years

33,356 26,653 3,930 1,954 4,901 1,597 1,113 321 96 488 4.8 4.2 8.2 4.9 10.0

55 to 64 years

26,139 21,707 2,587 1,335 2,564 864 647 149 30 180 3.3 3.0 5.7 2.2 7.0

65 years and older

9,110 7,847 681 402 693 181 144 29 8 33 2.0 1.8 4.2 1.9 4.8

Men, 16 years and older

80,139 64,664 8,430 4,659 14,130 4,409 3,290 705 191 1,561 5.5 5.1 8.4 4.1 11.1

16 to 19 years

1,576 1,259 185 49 356 140 110 22 3 40 8.9 8.7 11.7 (2) 11.1

20 to 24 years

6,842 5,333 937 284 1,579 623 484 105 18 171 9.1 9.1 11.2 6.5 10.9

25 to 34 years

18,120 14,164 2,096 1,182 3,946 1,265 873 247 58 460 7.0 6.2 11.8 4.9 11.7

35 to 44 years

17,218 13,562 1,894 1,179 3,647 1,093 837 154 41 509 6.3 6.2 8.1 3.5 13.9

45 to 54 years

17,632 14,378 1,796 1,046 2,762 811 595 128 55 270 4.6 4.1 7.1 5.2 9.8

55 to 64 years

13,749 11,586 1,213 693 1,457 386 313 42 14 93 2.8 2.7 3.5 2.0 6.4

65 years and older

5,001 4,383 310 226 383 91 79 7 3 18 1.8 1.8 2.4 1.3 4.7

Women, 16 years and older

70,180 54,167 9,645 4,088 10,206 5,078 3,213 1,407 187 1,282 7.2 5.9 14.6 4.6 12.6

16 to 19 years

1,728 1,323 229 69 331 203 125 49 8 49 11.8 9.4 21.5 (2) 14.7

20 to 24 years

6,392 4,797 1,022 259 1,237 982 656 262 21 191 15.4 13.7 25.7 7.9 15.5

25 to 34 years

15,119 11,233 2,324 998 2,567 1,497 884 476 43 412 9.9 7.9 20.5 4.3 16.1

35 to 44 years

14,718 10,954 2,190 1,034 2,514 1,041 631 299 54 310 7.1 5.8 13.6 5.3 12.3

45 to 54 years

15,724 12,275 2,134 909 2,139 786 518 193 42 218 5.0 4.2 9.0 4.6 10.2

55 to 64 years

12,390 10,121 1,375 641 1,107 479 334 106 16 87 3.9 3.3 7.7 2.5 7.8

65 years and older

4,109 3,465 371 177 310 91 65 21 4 15 2.2 1.9 5.8 2.5 4.9

1Number below the poverty level as a percent of the total in the labor force for 27 weeks or more.

2Data not shown where base is less than 80,000.

Note: Estimates for the race groups shown (White, Black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because data are not presented for all races. People whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC).

Table 3. People in the labor force for 27 weeks or more: poverty status by educational attainment, race, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, and gender, 2014
(Numbers in thousands)
Educational attainment, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity Total Men Women Below poverty level Rate1
Total Men Women Total Men Women

Total, 16 years and older

150,319 80,139 70,180 9,487 4,409 5,078 6.3 5.5 7.2

Less than a high school diploma

13,054 8,216 4,838 2,395 1,373 1,022 18.3 16.7 21.1

Less than 1 year of high school

4,336 2,882 1,453 833 521 312 19.2 18.1 21.5

1–3 years of high school

6,707 4,088 2,619 1,230 653 577 18.3 16.0 22.0

4 years of high school, no diploma

2,012 1,246 765 332 199 133 16.5 16.0 17.4

High school graduates, no college2

40,825 23,770 17,055 3,403 1,571 1,832 8.3 6.6 10.7

Some college or associate’s degree

43,572 21,470 22,102 2,642 961 1,682 6.1 4.5 7.6

Some college, no degree

27,804 14,159 13,644 1,914 725 1,189 6.9 5.1 8.7

Associate’s degree

15,768 7,311 8,458 729 236 493 4.6 3.2 5.8

Bachelor’s degree and higher3

52,868 26,682 26,186 1,047 505 542 2.0 1.9 2.1

White, 16 years and older

118,831 64,664 54,167 6,503 3,290 3,213 5.5 5.1 5.9

Less than a high school diploma

10,429 6,799 3,629 1,846 1,123 723 17.7 16.5 19.9

Less than 1 year of high school

3,731 2,538 1,193 719 455 264 19.3 17.9 22.2

1–3 years of high school

5,213 3,300 1,913 892 521 372 17.1 15.8 19.4

4 years of high school, no diploma

1,485 962 523 235 148 87 15.8 15.3 16.7

High school graduates, no college2

32,123 19,175 12,948 2,181 1,113 1,068 6.8 5.8 8.3

Some college or associate’s degree

34,133 17,217 16,916 1,698 658 1,041 5.0 3.8 6.2

Some college, no degree

21,400 11,162 10,238 1,212 488 724 5.7 4.4 7.1

Associate’s degree

12,733 6,055 6,677 487 170 317 3.8 2.8 4.7

Bachelor’s degree and higher3

42,146 21,472 20,674 777 397 380 1.8 1.8 1.8

Black or African American, 16 years and older

18,076 8,430 9,645 2,112 705 1,407 11.7 8.4 14.6

Less than a high school diploma

1,418 737 680 327 129 198 23.1 17.5 29.1

Less than 1 year of high school

196 110 86 36 22 14 18.3 20.1 16.1

1–3 years of high school

877 449 428 217 73 144 24.8 16.3 33.6

4 years of high school, no diploma

344 178 166 74 34 40 21.6 19.1 24.2

High school graduates, no college2

5,832 3,036 2,796 941 325 616 16.1 10.7 22

Some college or associate’s degree

6,251 2,667 3,584 702 210 492 11.2 7.9 13.7

Some college, no degree

4,289 1,933 2,356 509 162 347 11.9 8.4 14.7

Associate’s degree

1,962 734 1,228 193 48 144 9.8 6.6 11.8

Bachelor’s degree and higher3

4,575 1,990 2,585 142 41 101 3.1 2.1 3.9

Asian, 16 years and older

8,747 4,659 4,088 379 191 187 4.3 4.1 4.6

Less than a high school diploma

581 290 291 103 51 52 17.7 17.4 18

Less than 1 year of high school

233 111 122 43 21 23 18.7 18.8 18.5

1–3 years of high school

250 126 124 50 24 26 19.8 18.9 20.8

4 years of high school, no diploma

97 53 44 10 6 4 10.1 (4) (4)

High school graduates, no college2

1,515 807 708 106 58 48 7.0 7.1 6.8

Some college or associate’s degree

1,623 840 783 75 31 43 4.6 3.7 5.5

Some college, no degree

1,023 550 473 61 25 35 5.9 4.6 7.5

Associate’s degree

600 290 310 14 6 8 2.4 2.1 2.6

Bachelor’s degree and higher3

5,028 2,721 2,306 95 52 43 1.9 1.9 1.9

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 16 years and older

24,335 14,130 10,206 2,843 1,561 1,282 11.7 11.1 12.6

Less than a high school diploma

6,611 4,414 2,197 1,334 820 514 20.2 18.6 23.4

Less than 1 year of high school

3,333 2,275 1,058 670 417 253 20.1 18.3 23.9

1–3 years of high school

2,549 1,658 891 537 321 217 21.1 19.3 24.3

4 years of high school, no diploma

730 481 248 127 82 45 17.4 17.1 18

High school graduates, no college2

7,664 4,618 3,045 918 486 433 12.0 10.5 14.2

Some college or associate’s degree

6,148 3,160 2,988 442 189 253 7.2 6.0 8.5

Some college, no degree

4,225 2,195 2,030 319 134 184 7.5 6.1 9.1

Associate’s degree

1,923 965 958 123 54 69 6.4 5.6 7.2

Bachelor’s degree and higher3

3,912 1,937 1,975 149 67 82 3.8 3.5 4.1

1Number below the poverty level as a percent of the total in the labor force for 27 weeks or more.

2Includes people with a high school diploma or equivalent.

3Includes people with bachelor’s, master’s, professional, and doctoral degrees.

4Data not shown where base is less than 80,000.

Note: Estimates for the race groups shown (White, Black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because data are not presented for all races. People whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Dash represents or rounds to zero.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC).

Table 4. People in the labor force for 27 weeks or more who worked during the year: poverty status by occupation of longest job held, race, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, and gender, 2014
(Numbers in thousands)
Occupation, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity Total Men Women Below poverty level Rate1
Total Men Women Total Men Women

Total, 16 years and older2

148,291 78,985 69,306 8,585 3,943 4,642 5.8 5.0 6.7

Management, professional, and related occupations

56,949 27,538 29,411 1,107 484 623 1.9 1.8 2.1

Management, business, and financial operations occupations

23,807 13,542 10,265 486 263 223 2.0 1.9 2.2

Professional and related occupations

33,143 13,997 19,146 621 221 399 1.9 1.6 2.1

Service occupations

25,017 10,792 14,224 3,202 1,065 2,138 12.8 9.9 15.0

Sales and office occupations

34,133 13,186 20,947 1,996 619 1,377 5.8 4.7 6.6

Sales and related occupations

15,961 8,017 7,944 1,263 375 887 7.9 4.7 11.2

Office and administrative support occupations

18,172 5,169 13,003 733 243 490 4.0 4.7 3.8

Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations

14,100 13,443 658 1,113 1,041 72 7.9 7.7 11.0

Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

1,104 842 262 186 142 44 16.8 16.8 16.8

Construction and extraction occupations

7,978 7,775 203 686 671 15 8.6 8.6 7.4

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

5,018 4,825 193 241 228 13 4.8 4.7 6.8

Production, transportation, and material-moving occupations

17,952 13,917 4,035 1,161 729 432 6.5 5.2 10.7

Production occupations

8,726 6,176 2,550 562 310 252 6.4 5.0 9.9

Transportation and material-moving occupations

9,226 7,741 1,484 599 419 180 6.5 5.4 12.1

White, 16 years and older2

117,553 63,917 53,635 5,962 2,991 2,971 5.1 4.7 5.5

Management, professional, and related occupations

46,224 22,718 23,507 836 388 448 1.8 1.7 1.9

Management, business, and financial operations occupations

19,861 11,637 8,223 380 216 164 1.9 1.9 2.0

Professional and related occupations

26,364 11,080 15,284 456 172 284 1.7 1.6 1.9

Service occupations

18,278 7,971 10,307 2,072 764 1,309 11.3 9.6 12.7

Sales and office occupations

26,916 10,556 16,361 1,311 428 883 4.9 4.1 5.4

Sales and related occupations

12,837 6,666 6,171 844 276 568 6.6 4.1 9.2

Office and administrative support occupations

14,079 3,889 10,190 467 152 315 3.3 3.9 3.1

Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations

12,341 11,818 523 952 895 58 7.7 7.6 11.0

Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

982 762 219 161 124 37 16.4 16.2 17.0

Construction and extraction occupations

6,997 6,836 160 587 578 9 8.4 8.5 5.4

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

4,363 4,219 143 204 192 12 4.7 4.6 8.3

Production, transportation, and material-moving occupations

13,695 10,773 2,923 785 511 275 5.7 4.7 9.4

Production occupations

6,805 4,991 1,814 373 220 152 5.5 4.4 8.4

Transportation and material-moving occupations

6,890 5,782 1,108 413 291 122 6.0 5.0 11.0

Black or African American, 16 years and older2

17,521 8,138 9,383 1,824 582 1,242 10.4 7.2 13.2

Management, professional, and related occupations

5,114 1,942 3,171 167 42 125 3.3 2.2 3.9

Management, business, and financial operations occupations

1,936 871 1,066 66 23 43 3.4 2.6 4.0

Professional and related occupations

3,177 1,071 2,106 102 20 82 3.2 1.8 3.9

Service occupations

4,268 1,749 2,519 819 193 626 19.2 11.0 24.8

Sales and office occupations

4,355 1,426 2,929 486 117 370 11.2 8.2 12.6

Sales and related occupations

1,728 678 1,050 304 60 244 17.6 8.9 23.3

Office and administrative support occupations

2,627 748 1,879 182 56 125 6.9 7.5 6.7

Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations

977 894 83 89 80 9 9.1 9.0 10.3

Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

59 40 19 12 9 3 20.0 (3) (3)

Construction and extraction occupations

575 544 31 61 57 4 10.7 10.5 (3)

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

343 310 33 15 14 1 4.5 4.6 (3)

Production, transportation, and material-moving occupations

2,781 2,105 675 263 150 113 9.5 7.1 16.8

Production occupations

1,120 723 397 130 61 68 11.6 8.5 17.2

Transportation and material-moving occupations

1,660 1,382 278 134 89 45 8.1 6.4 16.2

Asian, 16 years and older2

8,667 4,611 4,055 359 182 177 4.1 3.9 4.4

Management, professional, and related occupations

4,332 2,339 1,993 66 37 29 1.5 1.6 1.5

Management, business, and financial operations occupations

1,490 789 701 22 13 9 1.5 1.6 1.4

Professional and related occupations

2,842 1,551 1,291 44 24 20 1.5 1.5 1.5

Service occupations

1,382 590 793 111 36 75 8.0 6.1 9.5

Sales and office occupations

1,760 808 952 93 47 46 5.3 5.8 4.8

Sales and related occupations

908 478 430 55 30 24 6.0 6.4 5.6

Office and administrative support occupations

851 330 522 38 17 22 4.5 5.0 4.1

Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations

312 293 19 20 18 2 6.5 6.3 (3)

Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

26 15 11 7 5 2 (3) (3) (3)

Construction and extraction occupations

122 121 1 8 8 (3) (3) (3)

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

165 158 7 6 6 3.6 3.8 (3)

Production, transportation, and material-moving occupations

876 579 297 69 44 25 7.8 7.6 8.4

Production occupations

534 284 250 36 16 20 6.8 5.7 8.0

Transportation and material-moving occupations

342 295 47 32 28 5 9.5 9.3 (3)

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 16 years and older2

23,951 13,917 10,034 2,647 1,462 1,185 11.1 10.5 11.8

Management, professional, and related occupations

4,889 2,289 2,600 176 81 95 3.6 3.5 3.7

Management, business, and financial operations occupations

2,148 1,163 986 95 54 41 4.4 4.6 4.2

Professional and related occupations

2,740 1,126 1,614 81 27 54 3.0 2.4 3.4

Service occupations

5,866 2,684 3,182 1,057 456 601 18.0 17.0 18.9

Sales and office occupations

5,086 2,036 3,050 443 140 302 8.7 6.9 9.9

Sales and related occupations

2,349 1,093 1,256 282 77 204 12.0 7.1 16.2

Office and administrative support occupations

2,737 943 1,793 161 63 98 5.9 6.7 5.5

Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations

4,083 3,859 224 576 547 29 14.1 14.2 12.9

Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

562 431 132 105 82 23 18.7 19 17.5

Construction and extraction occupations

2,605 2,533 72 387 383 4 14.9 15.1 (3)

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

916 895 21 84 82 2 9.2 9.2 (3)

Production, transportation, and material-moving occupations

4,009 3,036 972 395 239 157 9.9 7.9 16.1

Production occupations

1,926 1,291 635 184 94 90 9.6 7.3 14.2

Transportation and material-moving occupations

2,082 1,746 337 211 145 66 10.1 8.3 19.7

1Number below the poverty level as a percent of the total in the labor force for 27 weeks or more who worked during the year.

2Estimates for the occupational groups do not sum to totals because data includes the long-term unemployed with no previous work experience and a small number of people whose last job was in the Armed Forces.

3Data not shown where base is less than 80,000.

Note: Estimates for the race groups shown (White, Black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because data are not presented for all races. People whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Dash represents or rounds to zero.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC).

Table 5. Primary families: poverty status, presence of related children, and work experience of family members in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, 2014
(Numbers in thousands)
Characteristic Total families At or above
poverty level
Below poverty
level
Rate1

Total primary families

66,732 61,624 5,108 7.7

With related children under 18 years

35,145 30,897 4,248 12.1

Without children

31,587 30,726 860 2.7

With one member in the labor force

28,974 24,659 4,315 14.9

With two or more members in the labor force

37,758 36,965 793 2.1

With two members

31,366 30,641 725 2.3

With three or more members

6,393 6,324 69 1.1

Married-couple families

49,325 47,215 2,110 4.3

With related children under 18 years

24,555 22,891 1,664 6.8

Without children

24,770 24,324 446 1.8

With one member in the labor force

17,162 15,570 1,592 9.3

Husband

12,276 11,048 1,228 10.0

Wife

4,209 3,917 292 6.9

Relative

676 605 72 10.6

With two or more members in the labor force

32,163 31,645 518 1.6

With two members

27,024 26,537 486 1.8

With three or more members

5,140 5,108 32 0.6

Families maintained by women

12,148 9,702 2,445 20.1

With related children under 18 years

7,946 5,784 2,162 27.2

Without children

4,202 3,918 283 6.7

With one member in the labor force

8,543 6,317 2,226 26.1

Householder

6,982 5,040 1,942 27.8

Relative

1,561 1,277 283 18.2

With two or more members in the labor force

3,605 3,386 219 6.1

Families maintained by men

5,259 4,706 553 10.5

With related children under 18 years

2,644 2,222 422 16.0

Without children

2,615 2,484 131 5.0

With one member in the labor force

3,269 2,772 497 15.2

Householder

2,667 2,240 427 16.0

Relative

602 532 70 11.6

With two or more members in the labor force

1,990 1,934 56 2.8

1Number below the poverty level as a percent of the total in the labor force for 27 weeks or more.

Note: Data relate to primary families with at least one member in the labor force for 27 weeks or more.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC).

Table 6. People in families and unrelated individuals: poverty status and work experience, 2014
(Numbers in thousands)
Poverty status and work experience Total people In married-couple families In families maintained by women In families maintained by men Unrelated individuals
Hus-
bands
Wives Related children under 18 years Other relatives House-
holder
Related children under 18 years Other relatives House-
holder
Related children under 18 years Other relatives

Total

 

All people1

250,080 59,362 59,951 5,573 21,458 15,516 2,161 14,168 6,125 644 6,465 58,657

With labor force activity

162,757 45,113 37,048 1,335 13,485 10,756 388 8,476 4,685 142 3,994 37,336

1 to 26 weeks

12,438 1,571 2,730 776 2,412 624 235 1,095 254 81 342 2,318

27 weeks or more

150,319 43,542 34,318 558 11,073 10,131 153 7,381 4,431 61 3,652 35,018

With no labor force activity

87,323 14,249 22,903 4,239 7,973 4,760 1,773 5,691 1,439 502 2,471 21,321

At or above poverty level

 

All people1

217,643 55,667 56,220 5,177 20,374 10,760 1,426 11,518 5,164 532 5,773 45,032

With labor force activity

150,808 43,249 36,118 1,302 13,129 8,233 319 7,580 4,140 131 3,810 32,798

1 to 26 weeks

9,975 1,423 2,515 754 2,305 236 183 823 183 71 308 1,175

27 weeks or more

140,832 41,826 33,603 548 10,824 7,996 136 6,757 3,957 60 3,502 31,623

With no labor force activity

66,835 12,418 20,102 3,875 7,245 2,528 1,107 3,938 1,024 401 1,963 12,234

Below poverty level

 

All people1

32,437 3,695 3,732 396 1,084 4,756 735 2,649 961 112 692 13,625

With labor force activity

11,950 1,864 930 33 356 2,523 69 896 545 11 184 4,538

1 to 26 weeks

2,463 149 216 23 108 388 51 271 72 9 34 1,143

27 weeks or more

9,487 1,715 715 10 248 2,135 18 625 474 1 150 3,395

With no labor force activity

20,488 1,831 2,801 363 728 2,232 666 1,753 415 102 509 9,087

Rate2

 

All people1

13.0 6.2 6.2 7.1 5.1 30.7 34.0 18.7 15.7 17.4 10.7 23.2

With labor force activity

7.3 4.1 2.5 2.5 2.6 23.5 17.8 10.6 11.6 7.6 4.6 12.2

1 to 26 weeks

19.8 9.5 7.9 2.9 4.5 62.1 21.9 24.8 28.1 11.6 9.9 49.3

27 weeks or more

6.3 3.9 2.1 1.8 2.2 21.1 11.5 8.5 10.7 (3) 4.1 9.7

With no labor force activity

23.5 12.9 12.2 8.6 9.1 46.9 37.6 30.8 28.9 20.2 20.6 42.6

1Data on families include primary families that own or rent the housing unit as well as related and unrelated subfamilies that reside with them.

2Number below the poverty level as a percent of the total.

3Data not shown where base is less than 80,000.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC).

Table 7. Unrelated individuals in the labor force for 27 weeks or more: poverty status by age, gender, race, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, and living arrangement, 2014
(Numbers in thousands)
Characteristic Total At or above
poverty level
Below poverty
level
Rate1

Age and gender

 

Total unrelated individuals

35,018 31,623 3,395 9.7

16 to 19 years

390 248 142 36.5

20 to 24 years

4,128 3,340 788 19.1

25 to 64 years

28,034 25,649 2,385 8.5

65 years and older

2,465 2,385 80 3.2

Men

19,244 17,577 1,667 8.7

Women

15,774 14,045 1,728 11.0

Race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

 

White

27,538 25,059 2,479 9.0

Men

15,205 13,977 1,228 8.1

Women

12,333 11,082 1,250 10.1

Black or African American

4,865 4,198 667 13.7

Men

2,568 2,251 317 12.3

Women

2,297 1,947 350 15.3

Asian

1,509 1,414 95 6.3

Men

835 799 36 4.3

Women

674 615 59 8.7

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

4,835 4,163 673 13.9

Men

3,203 2,812 390 12.2

Women

1,632 1,350 282 17.3

Living arrangement

 

Living alone

18,032 16,721 1,311 7.3

Living with others

16,986 14,902 2,085 12.3

1Number below the poverty level as a percent of the total in the labor force for 27 weeks or more.

People whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.

Note: Estimates for the race groups shown (White, Black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because data are not presented for all races.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC).

Table 8. People in the labor force for 27 weeks or more: poverty status and labor market problems of full-time wage and salary workers, 2014
(Numbers in thousands)
Labor market problems Total At or above
poverty level
Below poverty
level
Rate1

Total, full-time wage and salary workers

116,175 111,728 4,447 3.8

No unemployment, involuntary part-time employment, or low earnings2

96,090 95,271 819 0.9

Unemployment only

5,291 4,820 471 8.9

Involuntary part-time employment only

2,681 2,596 85 3.2

Low earnings only

8,289 6,440 1,849 22.3

Unemployment and involuntary part-time employment

1,059 973 86 8.2

Unemployment and low earnings

1,561 853 708 45.3

Involuntary part-time employment and low earnings

814 556 258 31.7

Unemployment, involuntary part-time employment, and low earnings

389 220 170 43.6

Unemployment (alone or with other problems)

8,301 6,865 1,435 17.3

Involuntary part-time employment (alone or with other problems)

4,944 4,344 600 12.1

Low earnings (alone or with other problems)

11,053 8,069 2,985 27.0

1Number below the poverty level as a percent of the total in the labor force for 27 weeks or more.

2The low-earnings threshold in 2014 was $348.44 per week.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey (CPS), Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC).

Technical Notes

Source of data

The data presented in this report were collected in the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data from the CPS are used to obtain the monthly estimates of the nation’s employment and unemployment levels. The ASEC, conducted in the months of February through April, includes questions about work activity and income during the previous calendar year. For instance, data collected in 2015 refer to the 2014 calendar year.

Estimates in this report are based on a sample and, consequently, may differ from figures that would have been obtained from a complete count using the same questionnaire and procedures. Sampling variability may be relatively large in cases where the numbers are small. Thus, both small estimates and small differences between estimates should be interpreted with caution. The 2014 data in this report are based on a redesigned questionnaire aimed at improving income reporting, increasing response rates and reducing reporting errors. For a detailed explanation of the ASEC supplement to the CPS, its sampling variability, and more extensive definitions than those provided in these Technical Notes, see Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014, Current Population Reports, P60-252 (U.S. Census Bureau, September 2015). This publication is available on the U.S. Census Bureau website at https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p60-252.pdf, and additional information about income and poverty measures is available at https://www.census.gov/topics/income-poverty/income.html.

Material in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission.

Upon request, this information is available to individuals who are sensory-impaired. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.

For more information on the data provided in this report, contact the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Division of Labor Force Statistics. Email: cpsinfo@bls.gov; Telephone: (202) 691-6378.

Comparability of estimates

The data presented in this release are not strictly comparable with data for earlier years due to the introduction of updated population estimates, or controls, used in the CPS. The population controls are updated each year in January to reflect the latest information about population change. Additional information is at https://www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm#pop.

Prior editions of this report included estimates for years through 2012 that were affected by several errors, as described at https://www.bls.gov/bls/errata/corrected-working-poor-data.htm. These errors do not affect estimates for 2014.

Concepts and definitions

Poverty classification. Poverty statistics presented in this report are based on definitions developed by the Social Security Administration in 1964 and revised by Federal interagency committees in 1969 and 1981. These definitions originally were based on the Department of Agriculture’s Economy Food Plan and reflected the different consumption requirements of families predicated on the basis of factors such as family size and the number of children under 18 years of age.

The actual poverty thresholds vary, due to the makeup of the family. In 2014, the weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four was $24,230; for a family of nine or more people, the threshold was $49,021; and for one person (unrelated individual), it was $12,071. Poverty thresholds are updated each year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). Thresholds do not vary geographically. (For more information, see Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014, at https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p60-252.pdf.)

Low earnings. The low-earnings level, as first developed in 1987, represented the average of the real value of the minimum wage between 1967 and 1987 for a 40-hour workweek. The year 1967 was chosen as the base year because that was the first year in which minimum-wage legislation covered essentially the same broad group of workers that currently is covered. The low-earnings level has been adjusted each year since then in accordance with the CPI-U, so the measure maintains the same real value that it held in 1987. In 2014, the low-earnings threshold was $348.44 per week. For a complete definition, see Bruce W. Klein and Philip L. Rones, “A profile of the working poor,” Monthly Labor Review, October 1989, pp. 3–11, at https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1989/10/art1full.pdf.

Income. Data on income are limited to money income—before personal income taxes and payroll deductions—received in the calendar year preceding the CPS supplement. Data on income do not include the value of noncash benefits such as food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, public housing, and employer-provided benefits. For a complete definition of income, see Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014, at https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/p60-252.pdf.

Labor force. People in the labor force are those who worked or looked for work sometime during the calendar year. The number of weeks in the labor force is accumulated over the entire year. The focus in this report is on people who were in the labor force for 27 weeks or more.

Working poor. The working poor are people who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force (that is, working or looking for work) but whose incomes still fell below the official poverty level.

Working-poor rate. This rate is the number of individuals in the labor force for at least 27 weeks whose incomes still fell below the official poverty level as a percent of all people who were in the labor force for at least 27 weeks during the calendar year.

Involuntary part-time workers. These are people who, during at least 1 week of the year, worked fewer than 35 hours because of slack work or business conditions or because they could not find full-time work. The number of weeks of involuntary part-time work is accumulated over the year.

Occupation. This term refers to the job in which a person worked the most weeks during the calendar year.

Unemployed. Unemployed people are those who looked for work while not employed or those who were on layoff from a job and were expecting to be recalled to that job. The number of weeks unemployed is accumulated over the entire year.

Family. A family is defined as a group of two or more people residing together who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption. The count of families used in this report includes only primary families. A primary family consists of the reference person (householder) and all people living in the household who are related to the reference person. Families are classified either as married-couple families or as those maintained by men or women without spouses present. Family status is determined at the time of the survey interview and, thus, may be different from that of the previous year.

Unrelated individuals. These are people who are not living with anyone related to them by birth, marriage, or adoption. Such individuals may live alone, reside in a nonrelated family household, or live in group quarters with other unrelated individuals.

Related children. Related children are children under age 18 (including sons, daughters, stepchildren, and adopted children) of the husband, wife, or person maintaining the family, as well as other children related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption.

Race. White, Black or African American, and Asian are categories used to describe the race of people. People in these categories are those who selected that race group only. Data for the two remaining race categories—American Indian and Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander—and for people who selected more than one race category are included in totals, but are not shown separately because the number of survey respondents is too small to develop estimates of sufficient quality for publication. In the enumeration process, race is determined by the household respondent.

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. This refers to people who identified themselves in the CPS enumeration process as being of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish ethnicity. People whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.