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May 2021 Report 1093

A profile of the working poor, 2019

A profile of the working poor, 2019 image

About 34.0 million people, or 10.5 percent of the nation’s population, lived below the official poverty level in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.[1] (See the technical notes section for examples of poverty levels.) Although the poor were primarily adults who had not participated in the labor force during the year and children, 6.3 million individuals were among the “working poor” in 2019, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); this measure decreased from 7.0 million in 2018. 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 2019, the working-poor rate—the ratio of the working poor to all individuals in the labor force for at least 27 weeks—was 4.0 percent, down by 0.5 percentage point from the previous year’s figure. (See table A, chart 1, and table 1.)

Highlights from the 2019 data:

  • The working-poor rate of people in the labor force for 27 weeks or more was 4.0 percent. This is the lowest rate in the history of the series, which began in 1986. (See chart 1.)

  • Full-time workers remained much less likely to be among the working poor than part-time workers. Among people in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, 2.7 percent of those usually employed full time were classified as working poor, compared with 9.8 percent of part-time workers. (See table 1.)

  • Women were more likely than men to be among the working poor (4.5 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively). In addition, Blacks or African Americans and Hispanics or Latinos continued to be much more likely than Whites and Asians to be among the working poor.2 (See table 2.)

  • The likelihood of being classified as working poor diminishes as workers attain higher levels of education. Among those with less than a high school diploma, 12.8 percent of those who were in the labor force for at least 27 weeks were classified as working poor, compared with 1.4 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree and higher. (See table 3.)

  • Individuals who were employed in service occupations remained more likely to be among the working poor than those employed in other major occupational groups. (See table 4.)

  • Among families with at least one member in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, those with children under 18 years old were nearly 5 times as likely as those without children to live in poverty. Families maintained by women were more than twice as likely as families maintained by men to be living below the poverty level. (See table 5.)

Table A. Poverty status of people and primary families in the labor force for 27 weeks or more, 2008–19 (Numbers in thousands)
Characteristic200820092010201120122013201420152016201720182019

Total in the labor force[1]

147,838147,902146,859147,475148,735149,483150,319152,230153,364154,762156,454157,769

In poverty

8,88310,39110,51210,38210,61210,4509,4878,5607,5726,9466,9646,318

Working poor rate

6.07.07.27.07.17.06.35.64.94.54.54.0

Unrelated individuals

32,78533,79834,09933,73134,81035,06135,01835,95335,78936,95937,08236,805

In poverty

3,2753,9473,9473,6213,8514,1413,3953,1372,7922,5242,6842,445

Working poor rate

10.011.711.610.711.111.89.78.77.86.87.26.6

Primary families[2]

65,90765,46764,93166,22566,54166,46266,73267,19367,62867,58868,09968,318

In poverty

4,5385,1935,2695,4695,4785,1375,1084,6074,0823,8543,6283,232

Working poor rate

6.97.98.18.38.27.77.76.96.05.75.34.7

[1] Includes individuals in families, not shown separately.

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

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 2019 for workers and their families. These data were collected in the 2020 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 the report, See the technical notes.) The specific income thresholds used to determine people’s poverty status vary depending on whether the individuals are living with family members, living alone, or living with nonrelatives. For people living with family members, the poverty threshold is determined by the family’s total income; for individuals not living in families, personal income is used as the determinant.

Demographic characteristics

Among those who were in the labor force for 27 weeks or more in 2019, the number of women classified as working poor (3.4 million) was higher than that of men (2.9 million). The working-poor rate also continued to be higher for women (4.5 percent) than for men (3.5 percent). The working-poor rates for both women and men declined from a year earlier. (See table 2.)

Blacks and Hispanics were much more likely than Whites and Asians to be among the working poor. In 2019, the working-poor rates for Blacks and Hispanics were 7.2 percent and 7.0 percent, respectively, compared with 3.5 percent for Whites and 2.3 percent for Asians. (See table 2 and chart 2.)

Among Whites and Blacks, the working-poor rate was higher for women than for men in 2019. The rates for White women and White men who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force were 3.7 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. The rate for Black women was 8.9 percent, compared with 5.2 percent for Black men. For Asians and Hispanics, the working-poor rates for women varied slightly from those of men. The working-poor rate for Asian women was 2.3 percent, and the rate for men was 2.4 percent. Among Hispanics, the rate for women was 7.1 percent, and the rate for Hispanic men was 6.9 percent.

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, 7.4 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds and 7.6 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds had incomes that fell below the official poverty level in 2019. Those rates were higher than the rates for workers ages 25 to 34 (5.0 percent) and those ages 35 to 44 (4.3 percent). Workers ages 45 to 54, 55 to 64, and 65 and older had lower working-poor rates—2.9 percent, 2.6 percent, and 1.3 percent, respectively—than did those in younger age groups. (See table 2.)

Educational attainment

Achieving higher levels of education reduces the incidence of living in poverty. People 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. Among people in the labor force for 27 weeks or more in 2019, those with less than a high school diploma had the highest working-poor rate, at 12.8 percent, while those with a bachelor’s degree or higher had the lowest, at 1.4 percent. Even though women were more likely than men to be among the working poor at all levels of educational attainment, the working-poor rates were the same for men and women with a bachelor’s degree or higher. (See table 3 and chart 3.)

For people with a bachelor’s degree and higher, all race and ethnicity groups had similar working-poor rates, ranging from 1.4 percent to 1.7 percent. For those with less than a high school diploma, the working poor rate for Asians (5.3 percent) was lower than the rates for Whites (12.4 percent), Hispanics (14.8 percent), and Blacks (17.3 percent) in 2019.

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. For example, 1.4 percent of those in management, professional, and related occupations were among the working poor in 2019. By contrast, individuals employed in occupations that typically do not require high levels of education and that are characterized by relatively low earnings were more likely to be among the working poor. For instance, 8.2 percent of service workers who were in the labor force for at least 27 weeks were classified as working poor in 2019. The 2.1 million working poor employed in service occupations accounted for about one-third of all those classified as working poor. (See table 4.)

For most occupational groups, women had higher working-poor rates than men. However, the rates for men and women were little different in management, professional, and related occupations (1.5 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively). For both men and women, working-poor rates were lowest in this occupational group.

Families

In 2019, 3.2 million families were living below the poverty level despite having at least one member in the labor force for half the year or more. This figure was down from 3.6 million in 2018. Among families with only one member in the labor force for at least 27 weeks in 2019, married-couple families were less likely to be living below the poverty level, at 5.6 percent, than were families maintained by women, at 18.9 percent, and families maintained by men, at 9.0 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 who lived in poverty was 7.8 percent in 2019, compared with 1.6 percent for families without children. Among families with children under 18, the working-poor rate for those maintained by women (20.3 percent) was higher than the rate for those maintained by men (9.0 percent). Married-couple families with children under 18 had a working-poor rate of 4.0 percent in 2019.

Unrelated individuals

The “unrelated individuals” category includes individuals who live by themselves or with others not related to them. Of the 36.8 million unrelated individuals who were in the labor force for half the year or longer, 2.4 million lived below the poverty level in 2019. This measure was down from a year earlier, when the number of unrelated individuals who lived below the poverty level was 2.7 million. The working-poor rate for unrelated individuals who were in the labor force for 27 weeks or more was 6.6 percent, a decrease of 0.6 percentage point from last year’s figure. (See table 6.)

Within the group of unrelated individuals, teenagers continued to be most likely among the working poor. In 2019, 39.2 percent of teens (ages 16 to 19) who were in the labor force for 27 weeks or more and who lived on their own or with others not related to them lived below the poverty level, little changed from the prior year. In 2019, the working-poor rates for men and women living alone or with nonrelatives were 6.1 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively. The rates for unrelated individuals were higher for Hispanics (10.1 percent) and Blacks (8.1 percent) than for Whites (6.4 percent) and Asians (4.6 percent). (See table 7.)

Of the 2.4 million unrelated individuals considered to be among the working poor in 2019, about 3 out of 5 lived with others. These individuals had a higher working-poor rate than individuals who lived alone. Many unrelated individuals living below the poverty level may live with others out of necessity. By contrast, 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, 3.0 million, or 2.4 percent, were classified as working poor in 2019. Both measures are down from the previous year. (See table 8.)

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

In 2019, 80 percent of the working poor who usually work 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 only problem or in combination with other labor market problems. Twenty-seven percent experienced unemployment as the main labor market problem or in conjunction with other problems. Three percent of the working poor experienced all three problems: low earnings, unemployment, and involuntary part-time employment. (See table 8.)

Some 604,000, or 20 percent, of the working poor who usually worked full time did not experience any of the three primary labor market problems in 2019. 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: 2019,” Current Population Reports, P60–266 (U.S. Census Bureau, September 2020), https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2020/demo/p60-270.pdf.

2 People of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity may be of any race.

Statistical Tables

Table 1. People in the labor force: poverty status and work experience by weeks in the labor force, 2019 (Numbers in thousands)
Poverty status and work experience Total in labor force 27 weeks or more in labor force
Total 50 to 52 weeks

TOTAL, 16 YEARS AND OLDER

Total in the labor force

170,663 157,769 144,235

Did not work during the year

2,030 959 794

Worked during the year

168,632 156,810 143,441

Usual full-time workers

136,229 131,555 124,015

Usual part-time workers

32,404 25,255 19,426

Involuntary part-time workers

5,765 5,037 4,079

Voluntary part-time workers

26,638 20,218 15,347

At or above poverty level

Total in the labor force

162,360 151,451 139,082

Did not work during the year

1,338 615 495

Worked during the year

161,023 150,837 138,588

Usual full-time workers

132,110 128,068 121,023

Usual part-time workers

28,912 22,768 17,564

Involuntary part-time workers

4,738 4,190 3,398

Voluntary part-time workers

24,174 18,578 14,166

Below poverty level

Total in the labor force

8,302 6,318 5,153

Did not work during the year

693 345 299

Worked during the year

7,610 5,973 4,854

Usual full-time workers

4,118 3,486 2,992

Usual part-time workers

3,491 2,486 1,862

Involuntary part-time workers

1,028 846 681

Voluntary part-time workers

2,464 1,640 1,181

RATE[1]

Total in the labor force

4.9 4.0 3.6

Did not work during the year

34.1 35.9 37.7

Worked during the year

4.5 3.8 3.4

Usual full-time workers

3.0 2.7 2.4

Usual part-time workers

10.8 9.8 9.6

Involuntary part-time workers

17.8 16.8 16.7

Voluntary part-time workers

9.2 8.1 7.7

[1] Number below the poverty level as a percent of the total in the labor force.

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

Table 2. People in the labor force for 27 weeks or more: poverty status by age, gender, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 2019 (Numbers in thousands)
Age and gender Total Below poverty level Rate[1]
Total White Black or African American Asian Hispanic or Latino Total White Black or African American Asian Hispanic or Latino Total White Black or African American Asian Hispanic or Latino

Total, 16 years and older

157,769 122,238 19,891 10,186 28,057 6,318 4,296 1,433 239 1,964 4.0 3.5 7.2 2.3 7.0

  16 to 19 years

3,678 2,834 467 132 865 273 173 53 11 80 7.4 6.1 11.4 8.6 9.2

  20 to 24 years

12,926 9,751 1,836 602 3,110 977 659 210 45 263 7.6 6.8 11.5 7.4 8.5

  25 to 34 years

36,215 26,793 5,266 2,619 7,212 1,800 1,141 514 57 462 5.0 4.3 9.8 2.2 6.4

  35 to 44 years

33,679 25,633 4,316 2,537 6,691 1,447 1,012 303 46 565 4.3 3.9 7.0 1.8 8.4

  45 to 54 years

32,245 25,061 4,028 2,224 5,735 940 667 200 39 374 2.9 2.7 5.0 1.8 6.5

  55 to 64 years

27,882 22,819 2,955 1,504 3,450 739 543 124 32 181 2.6 2.4 4.2 2.1 5.2

  65 years and older

11,144 9,347 1,023 568 993 143 103 28 9 39 1.3 1.1 2.7 1.5 3.9

Men, 16 years and older

83,510 66,048 9,253 5,445 15,814 2,948 2,191 482 130 1,090 3.5 3.3 5.2 2.4 6.9

  16 to 19 years

1,894 1,467 190 85 459 128 94 14 6 41 6.8 6.4 7.6 6.6 8.9

  20 to 24 years

6,643 5,106 891 285 1,656 456 319 96 23 124 6.9 6.3 10.7 8.0 7.5

  25 to 34 years

19,307 14,557 2,540 1,428 4,134 741 560 119 30 247 3.8 3.8 4.7 2.1 6.0

  35 to 44 years

18,090 14,168 1,970 1,357 3,868 744 561 118 21 355 4.1 4.0 6.0 1.6 9.2

  45 to 54 years

16,721 13,245 1,838 1,165 3,183 457 343 74 26 198 2.7 2.6 4.0 2.2 6.2

  55 to 64 years

14,617 12,159 1,354 809 1,942 344 254 51 15 102 2.4 2.1 3.8 1.9 5.3

  65 years and older

6,238 5,346 470 315 573 79 59 10 9 24 1.3 1.1 2.2 2.7 4.1

Women, 16 years and older

74,259 56,190 10,639 4,741 12,243 3,370 2,106 951 109 874 4.5 3.7 8.9 2.3 7.1

  16 to 19 years

1,784 1,367 277 48 407 145 79 39 6 39 8.1 5.8 14.0 - 9.5

  20 to 24 years

6,283 4,645 945 317 1,454 521 340 115 22 140 8.3 7.3 12.1 6.9 9.6

  25 to 34 years

16,908 12,236 2,726 1,191 3,079 1,059 581 395 26 215 6.3 4.7 14.5 2.2 7.0

  35 to 44 years

15,589 11,465 2,345 1,180 2,823 703 450 186 25 210 4.5 3.9 7.9 2.1 7.4

  45 to 54 years

15,524 11,816 2,190 1,059 2,552 484 324 126 13 176 3.1 2.7 5.7 1.2 6.9

  55 to 64 years

13,265 10,660 1,601 695 1,508 395 289 73 17 79 3.0 2.7 4.6 2.4 5.2

  65 years and older

4,906 4,001 554 253 420 64 44 18 - 15 1.3 1.1 3.2 - 3.7

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

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 zero, rounds to zero, or indicates that base is less than 80,000.

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

Table 3. People in the labor force for 27 weeks or more: poverty status by educational attainment, race, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, and gender, 2019 (Numbers in thousands)
Educational attainment, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity Total Men Women Below poverty level Rate[1]
Total Men Women Total Men Women

Total, 16 years and older

157,769 83,510 74,259 6,318 2,948 3,370 4.0 3.5 4.5

 Less than a high school diploma

11,344 7,027 4,317 1,452 848 604 12.8 12.1 14.0

    Less than 1 year of high school

3,614 2,383 1,231 545 362 183 15.1 15.2 14.9

    1–3 years of high school

5,844 3,529 2,316 669 353 316 11.4 10.0 13.6

    4 years of high school, no diploma

1,885 1,115 770 238 133 105 12.6 11.9 13.7

 High school graduates, no college[2]

40,099 23,732 16,367 2,225 1,037 1,188 5.5 4.4 7.3

  Some college or associate's degree

43,273 21,734 21,538 1,752 639 1,113 4.0 2.9 5.2

    Some college, no degree

26,040 13,501 12,539 1,202 419 782 4.6 3.1 6.2

    Associate's degree

17,233 8,234 8,999 550 220 330 3.2 2.7 3.7

 Bachelor's degree and higher[3]

63,054 31,017 32,037 888 424 464 1.4 1.4 1.4

White, 16 years and older

122,238 66,048 56,190 4,296 2,191 2,106 3.5 3.3 3.7

 Less than a high school diploma

8,963 5,724 3,239 1,111 698 413 12.4 12.2 12.7

    Less than 1 year of high school

3,036 2,057 979 484 324 161 16.0 15.7 16.4

    1–3 years of high school

4,549 2,819 1,731 479 287 192 10.5 10.2 11.1

    4 years of high school, no diploma

1,378 848 529 147 87 60 10.7 10.2 11.4

 High school graduates, no college[2]

30,865 18,748 12,117 1,376 719 657 4.5 3.8 5.4

  Some college or associate's degree

33,712 17,321 16,390 1,122 444 678 3.3 2.6 4.1

    Some college, no degree

19,828 10,506 9,322 767 296 471 3.9 2.8 5.1

    Associate's degree

13,883 6,815 7,068 355 148 207 2.6 2.2 2.9

 Bachelor's degree and higher[3]

48,698 24,254 24,444 687 329 358 1.4 1.4 1.5

Black or African American, 16 years and older

19,891 9,253 10,639 1,433 482 951 7.2 5.2 8.9

 Less than a high school diploma

1,304 658 646 225 94 131 17.3 14.3 20.3

    Less than 1 year of high school

236 123 113 17 14 3 7.2 11.6 2.3

    1–3 years of high school

737 380 356 135 45 91 18.4 11.8 25.4

    4 years of high school, no diploma

332 155 176 73 35 38 22.0 22.7 21.5

 High school graduates, no college[2]

6,190 3,316 2,873 673 247 426 10.9 7.4 14.8

  Some college or associate's degree

6,252 2,760 3,492 445 121 324 7.1 4.4 9.3

    Some college, no degree

4,065 1,874 2,191 304 73 231 7.5 3.9 10.5

    Associate's degree

2,187 886 1,301 141 48 93 6.5 5.4 7.2

 Bachelor's degree and higher[3]

6,146 2,518 3,628 90 20 70 1.5 0.8 1.9

Asian, 16 years and older

10,186 5,445 4,741 239 130 109 2.3 2.4 2.3

 Less than a high school diploma

547 315 232 29 14 15 5.3 4.5 6.3

    Less than 1 year of high school

206 106 100 14 7 7 7.0 6.6 7.3

    1–3 years of high school

242 143 99 7 2 5 2.9 1.4 5.0

    4 years of high school, no diploma

99 66 33 7 5 2 7.5 - -

 High school graduates, no college[2]

1,458 778 680 42 19 23 2.9 2.5 3.3

  Some college or associate's degree

1,536 773 764 74 29 45 4.8 3.7 5.9

    Some college, no degree

942 494 448 52 21 31 5.5 4.2 7.0

    Associate's degree

594 278 316 22 8 14 3.7 2.9 4.3

 Bachelor's degree and higher[3]

6,645 3,579 3,066 95 68 27 1.4 1.9 0.9

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 16 years and older

28,057 15,814 12,243 1,964 1,090 874 7.0 6.9 7.1

 Less than a high school diploma

5,885 3,771 2,114 873 547 326 14.8 14.5 15.4

    Less than 1 year of high school

2,792 1,881 911 452 294 158 16.2 15.6 17.3

    1–3 years of high school

2,340 1,445 895 317 200 117 13.5 13.8 13.1

    4 years of high school, no diploma

753 445 308 104 53 51 13.9 12.0 16.5

 High school graduates, no college[2]

8,831 5,399 3,432 653 356 297 7.4 6.6 8.7

  Some college or associate's degree

7,367 3,772 3,594 336 143 193 4.6 3.8 5.4

    Some college, no degree

4,724 2,468 2,256 239 103 136 5.1 4.2 6.0

    Associate's degree

2,643 1,304 1,339 98 40 57 3.7 3.1 4.3

 Bachelor's degree and higher[3]

5,974 2,871 3,103 102 45 57 1.7 1.6 1.9

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

[2]Includes people with a high school diploma or equivalent.

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

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 zero, rounds to zero, or indicates that base is less than 80,000.

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

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, 2019 (Numbers in thousands)
Occupation, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity Total Men Women Below poverty level Rate[1]
Total Men Women Total Men Women

Total, 16 years and older[2]

156,810 82,965 73,844 5,973 2,768 3,205 3.8 3.3 4.3

  Management, professional, and related occupations

66,000 31,651 34,349 920 392 528 1.4 1.2 1.5

   Management, business, and financial operations occupations

27,881 15,005 12,876 355 196 158 1.3 1.3 1.2

   Professional and related occupations

38,120 16,647 21,473 565 196 369 1.5 1.2 1.7

 Service occupations

25,777 11,055 14,722 2,119 682 1,437 8.2 6.2 9.8

 Sales and office occupations

30,935 11,562 19,373 1,188 311 877 3.8 2.7 4.5

   Sales and related occupations

14,611 7,287 7,324 684 200 484 4.7 2.7 6.6

    Office and administrative support occupations

16,324 4,275 12,049 504 111 393 3.1 2.6 3.3

  Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations

14,316 13,448 868 788 718 70 5.5 5.3 8.1

   Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

1,196 907 289 135 95 40 11.2 10.5 13.7

    Construction and extraction occupations

8,286 7,904 382 513 490 23 6.2 6.2 5.9

    Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

4,834 4,637 197 141 133 8 2.9 2.9 4.0

  Production, transportation, and material-moving occupations

19,644 15,147 4,498 951 658 293 4.8 4.3 6.5

    Production occupations

8,146 5,878 2,268 307 187 120 3.8 3.2 5.3

    Transportation and material-moving occupations

11,499 9,269 2,230 645 471 174 5.6 5.1 7.8

White, 16 years and older[2]

121,712 65,737 55,975 4,118 2,074 2,044 3.4 3.2 3.7

  Management, professional, and related occupations

52,039 25,369 26,670 669 300 369 1.3 1.2 1.4

   Management, business, and financial operations occupations

22,820 12,689 10,131 277 160 118 1.2 1.3 1.2

   Professional and related occupations

29,219 12,680 16,538 391 140 251 1.3 1.1 1.5

 Service occupations

18,475 8,109 10,366 1,404 495 909 7.6 6.1 8.8

 Sales and office occupations

24,183 9,160 15,022 780 243 537 3.2 2.7 3.6

   Sales and related occupations

11,647 5,966 5,682 448 147 301 3.8 2.5 5.3

    Office and administrative support occupations

12,535 3,195 9,341 332 96 236 2.7 3.0 2.5

  Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations

12,313 11,610 703 684 627 56 5.6 5.4 8.0

   Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

1,047 807 240 120 89 31 11.4 11.0 13.0

    Construction and extraction occupations

7,204 6,884 320 451 431 20 6.3 6.3 6.4

    Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

4,062 3,919 143 113 108 5 2.8 2.8 3.4

  Production, transportation, and material-moving occupations

14,602 11,417 3,185 581 409 172 4.0 3.6 5.4

    Production occupations

6,387 4,747 1,640 193 124 70 3.0 2.6 4.2

    Transportation and material-moving occupations

8,215 6,670 1,545 388 286 103 4.7 4.3 6.7

Black or African American, 16 years and older[2]

19,562 9,078 10,484 1,300 440 860 6.6 4.8 8.2

  Management, professional, and related occupations

6,429 2,397 4,032 162 43 119 2.5 1.8 2.9

   Management, business, and financial operations occupations

2,430 990 1,439 57 29 28 2.3 2.9 2.0

   Professional and related occupations

3,999 1,406 2,593 105 15 91 2.6 1.0 3.5

 Service occupations

4,586 1,816 2,770 499 115 384 10.9 6.4 13.9

 Sales and office occupations

4,035 1,265 2,770 303 38 265 7.5 3.0 9.6

   Sales and related occupations

1,602 640 962 170 30 141 10.6 4.7 14.6

    Office and administrative support occupations

2,433 625 1,808 133 9 124 5.5 1.4 6.9

  Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations

1,150 1,060 90 59 50 9 5.1 4.8 9.6

   Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

93 61 33 8 1 6 8.1 - -

    Construction and extraction occupations

629 597 32 41 41 - 6.5 6.8 -

    Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

428 402 25 11 8 3 2.6 2.1 -

  Production, transportation, and material-moving occupations

3,331 2,515 816 271 186 84 8.1 7.4 10.3

    Production occupations

1,052 694 358 79 48 31 7.5 6.9 8.6

    Transportation and material-moving occupations

2,279 1,821 458 192 139 54 8.4 7.6 11.7

Asian, 16 years and older[2]

10,157 5,430 4,727 231 122 109 2.3 2.2 2.3

  Management, professional, and related occupations

5,633 3,060 2,573 51 43 8 0.9 1.4 0.3

   Management, business, and financial operations occupations

1,842 955 887 6 6 - 0.3 0.7 -

   Professional and related occupations

3,791 2,104 1,687 45 36 8 1.2 1.7 0.5

 Service occupations

1,589 652 937 95 31 64 6.0 4.7 6.8

 Sales and office occupations

1,624 743 881 47 20 27 2.9 2.7 3.1

   Sales and related occupations

823 464 359 25 14 11 3.0 3.0 3.0

    Office and administrative support occupations

802 279 523 22 6 16 2.8 2.2 3.1

  Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations

345 302 43 10 7 2 2.8 2.5 -

   Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

24 17 8 2 2 - - - -

    Construction and extraction occupations

155 135 20 3 - 2 1.7 0.3 -

    Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

165 150 15 5 5 - 3.2 3.5 -

  Production, transportation, and material-moving occupations

962 669 293 28 21 7 2.9 3.1 2.4

    Production occupations

459 272 187 8 2 6 1.6 0.6 3.1

    Transportation and material-moving occupations

503 397 105 20 19 1 4.1 4.8 1.2

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 16 years and older[2]

27,842 15,690 12,153 1,885 1,051 834 6.8 6.7 6.9

  Management, professional, and related occupations

6,761 3,133 3,628 99 28 71 1.5 0.9 2.0

   Management, business, and financial operations occupations

2,909 1,493 1,416 48 19 30 1.7 1.3 2.1

   Professional and related occupations

3,851 1,640 2,212 51 9 42 1.3 0.6 1.9

 Service occupations

6,643 2,954 3,689 704 283 421 10.6 9.6 11.4

 Sales and office occupations

5,325 2,014 3,311 292 75 217 5.5 3.7 6.6

   Sales and related occupations

2,367 1,084 1,284 178 51 127 7.5 4.7 9.9

    Office and administrative support occupations

2,958 930 2,027 114 23 91 3.9 2.5 4.5

  Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations

4,485 4,169 316 463 427 35 10.3 10.3 11.2

   Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

562 395 167 83 59 24 14.8 14.9 14.5

    Construction and extraction occupations

2,918 2,797 121 314 303 11 10.8 10.8 9.3

    Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

1,005 976 29 65 65 - 6.5 6.7 -

  Production, transportation, and material-moving occupations

4,612 3,407 1,205 327 238 89 7.1 7.0 7.4

    Production occupations

1,896 1,272 624 136 86 50 7.2 6.8 8.0

    Transportation and material-moving occupations

2,716 2,135 581 190 152 39 7.0 7.1 6.6

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

[2]Estimates 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.

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 zero, rounds to zero, or indicates that base is less than 80,000.

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

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, 2019 (Numbers in thousands)
Characteristic Total families At or above poverty level Below poverty level Rate[1]

TOTAL PRIMARY FAMILIES

Total

68,318 65,086 3,232 4.7

  With related children under 18 years

34,175 31,493 2,681 7.8

  Without children

34,144 33,593 551 1.6

  With one member in the labor force

28,345 25,568 2,777 9.8

  With two or more members in the labor force

39,974 39,518 455 1.1

    With two members

33,163 32,743 420 1.3

    With three or more members

6,811 6,775 35 0.5

Married-couple families[2]

Total

50,656 49,435 1,222 2.4

  With related children under 18 years

24,180 23,213 966 4.0

  Without children

26,477 26,221 255 1.0

  With one member in the labor force

16,901 15,960 941 5.6

    Husband

11,599 10,854 745 6.4

    Wife

4,408 4,284 124 2.8

    Relative

895 823 72 8.1

  With two or more members in the labor force

33,755 33,474 281 0.8

    With two members

28,333 28,079 255 0.9

    With three or more members

5,422 5,395 26 0.5

Families maintained by women[3]

Total

12,004 10,335 1,669 13.9

  With related children under 18 years

7,207 5,744 1,463 20.3

  Without children

4,798 4,592 206 4.3

  With one member in the labor force

8,129 6,591 1,538 18.9

    Householder

6,502 5,174 1,328 20.4

    Relative

1,627 1,417 210 12.9

  With two or more members in the labor force

3,875 3,744 131 3.4

Families maintained by men[3]

Total

5,658 5,316 341 6.0

  With related children under 18 years

2,788 2,537 252 9.0

  Without children

2,869 2,780 90 3.1

  With one member in the labor force

3,314 3,017 297 9.0

    Householder

2653 2412 241 9.1

    Relative

661 604 56 8.5

  With two or more members in the labor force

2343 2300 44 1.9

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

[2] Beginning with data for 2018, includes both opposite-sex and same-sex married-couple families. Prior to 2018, included opposite-sex married-couple families only.

[3] Beginning with data for 2018, includes families with no spouse of either sex present. Prior to 2018, included only families with no opposite-sex spouse present.

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, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) of the Current Population Survey (CPS).

Table 6. People in families and unrelated individuals: poverty status and work experience, 2019 (Numbers in thousands)
Poverty status and work experience Total In married-couple families[1] In families maintained by women[2] In families maintained by men[2] Unrelated individuals
Husbands Wives Related children under 18 years Other relatives Householder Related children under 18 years Other relatives Householder Related children under 18 years Other relatives

TOTAL, 16 YEARS AND OLDER

All people

259,757 61,577 62,350 5,589 23,771 14,815 2,018 14,671 6,486 711 7,250 60,521

   With labor force activity

170,663 45,804 38,617 1,505 15,263 10,486 504 9,141 5,027 174 4,694 39,447

     1 to 26 weeks

12,894 1,426 2,495 815 2,659 624 260 1,179 278 98 418 2,642

     27 weeks or more

157,769 44,378 36,122 689 12,604 9,862 245 7,962 4,749 76 4,276 36,805

   With no labor force activity

89,095 15,773 23,733 4,084 8,507 4,329 1,513 5,529 1,459 537 2,556 21,074

At or above poverty level

All people

235,318 59,122 59,833 5,336 22,969 11,518 1,506 12,815 5,742 620 6,710 49,148

   With labor force activity

162,360 44,693 38,097 1,479 14,991 8,766 441 8,539 4,660 163 4,542 35,990

     1 to 26 weeks

10,909 1,322 2,343 805 2,572 329 226 1,020 191 92 379 1,629

     27 weeks or more

151,451 43,371 35,753 674 12,419 8,438 215 7,519 4,469 71 4,163 34,360

   With no labor force activity

72,958 14,429 21,736 3,857 7,978 2,752 1,065 4,276 1,081 457 2,168 13,158

Below poverty level

All people

24,439 2,455 2,517 253 802 3,297 512 1,855 744 91 541 11,373

   With labor force activity

8,302 1,111 521 26 272 1,720 64 602 366 11 152 3,457

     1 to 26 weeks

1,985 103 152 11 87 295 34 159 86 6 39 1,012

     27 weeks or more

6,318 1,008 369 15 186 1,424 30 443 280 5 113 2,445

   With no labor force activity

16,136 1,343 1,996 227 529 1,577 448 1,253 378 80 389 7,916

RATE[3]

All people

9.4 4.0 4.0 4.5 3.4 22.3 25.4 12.6 11.5 12.8 7.5 18.8

   With labor force activity

4.9 2.4 1.3 1.7 1.8 16.4 12.6 6.6 7.3 6.4 3.2 8.8

     1 to 26 weeks

15.4 7.3 6.1 1.3 3.3 47.3 13.0 13.5 31.0 6.4 9.3 38.3

     27 weeks or more

4.0 2.3 1.0 2.2 1.5 14.4 12.2 5.6 5.9 6.4 2.6 6.6

   With no labor force activity

18.1 8.5 8.4 5.6 6.2 36.4 29.6 22.7 25.9 14.9 15.2 37.6

[1]Beginning with data for 2018, includes people in both opposite-sex and same-sex married-couple families. Prior to 2018, included opposite-sex married-couple families only.

[2]Beginning with data for 2018, includes people in families with no spouse of either sex present. Prior to 2018, included only families with no opposite-sex spouse present.

[3]Number below the poverty level as a percentage of the total.

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

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, 2019 (Numbers in thousands)
Characteristic Total At or above poverty level Below poverty level Rate[1]

Age and gender

Total unrelated individuals

36,805 34,360 2,445 6.6

  16 to 19 years

315 191 123 39.2

 20 to 24 years

3,907 3,297 611 15.6

 25 to 64 years

29,631 27,985 1,645 5.6

 65 years and older

2,952 2,887 65 2.2

  Men

19,932 18,721 1,211 6.1

  Women

16,873 15,639 1,234 7.3

Race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

White

28,256 26,450 1,805 6.4

Men

15,603 14,686 917 5.9

Women

12,653 11,765 888 7.0

Black or African American

5,284 4,858 425 8.1

  Men

2,531 2,344 186 7.4

  Women

2,753 2,514 239 8.7

Asian

1,829 1,745 85 4.6

  Men

994 953 41 4.1

  Women

835 792 43 5.2

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

5,467 4,914 553 10.1

  Men

3,357 3,052 305 9.1

  Women

2,110 1,863 248 11.7

Living arrangement

Living alone

19,108 18,149 959 5.0

Living with others

17,697 16,211 1,486 8.4

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

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, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) of the Current Population Survey (CPS).

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, 2018 (Numbers in thousands)
Labor market problems Total At or above poverty level Below poverty level Rate[1]

Total, full-time wage and salary workers

125,213 122,170 3,043 2.4

No unemployment, involuntary part-time employment, or low earnings[2]

108,680 108,076 604 0.6

Workers experiencing one labor market problem

  Unemployment only

4,901 4,619 283 5.8

  Involuntary part-time employment only

2,674 2,609 65 2.4

  Low earnings only

6,318 4,910 1,408 22.3

Workers experiencing multiple labor market problems

  Unemployment and involuntary part-time employment

902 840 62 6.9

  Unemployment and low earnings

959 587 372 38.8

  Involuntary part-time employment and low earnings

514 357 157 30.6

  Unemployment, involuntary part-time employment, and low earnings

265 172 93 34.9

Workers experiencing each labor market problem

  Unemployment (alone or with other problems)

7,027 6,218 809 11.5

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

4,354 3,978 376 8.6

  Low earnings (alone or with other problems)

8,056 6,026 2,030 25.2

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

[2]The low-earnings threshold in 2019 was $369.59 per week.

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

Technical Notes

The data presented in this report were collected in the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS). Conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPS is a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households. Data from the CPS are used to obtain 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 2020 are for the 2019 calendar year. The 2019 data in this report are based on fewer sample responses than in recent years. The collection period for these data coincided with the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; because in-person interviews were suspended during the collection period, the response rate for the survey was about 10 percentage points lower than in the previous year. For more information about the impact of the pandemic on ASEC data collection, see “Income and poverty in the United States: 2019,” Current Population Reports, P60-270 (U.S. Census Bureau, September 2020), www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2020/demo/p60-270.pdf.

Estimates in this report are based on a sample and, consequently, may differ from estimates 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. For a detailed explanation of the ASEC supplement to the CPS, its sampling variability, more extensive definitions than those provided here, and additional information about income and poverty measures, see “Income and poverty in the United States: 2019,” Current Population Reports, P60-270 (U.S. Census Bureau, September 2020), www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2020/demo/p60-270.pdf.

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

Upon request, the information in this report 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.

Concepts and definitions

Poverty classification 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 on the basis of factors, such as family size and the number of children under 18 years of age.

The actual poverty thresholds vary with the makeup of the family. In 2019, the weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four was $26,172; for a family of nine or more people, the threshold was $52,875; and for one person (unrelated individual), it was $13,011. 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: 2019,”www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2020/demo/p60-270.pdf.

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 2019, the low-earnings threshold was $376.28 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, www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1989/10/art1full.pdf.

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: 2019,” www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2020/demo/p60-270.pdf.

The labor force refers to people 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.

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.

The working-poor 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 percentage of all people who were in the labor force for at least 27 weeks during the calendar year.

Involuntary part-time workers are people who, during at least 1 week of the year, worked fewer than 35 hours because of slack work, unfavorable 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 refers to the job in which a person worked the most weeks during the calendar year.

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.

The householder is the family reference person. This is the person, or one of the people, in whose name the housing unit is owned or rented. The relationships of the other individuals in the household are defined in terms of their relationships to the householder. The race or Hispanic ethnicity of the family is determined by that of the householder.

A family is a group of two or more people residing together who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption; all such people are considered members of one family. Families include those with or without children under 18 years old. The count of families is for “primary” families only. A primary family consists of a householder and all other people related to and residing with the householder. Sub-families are excluded from the count of families. A sub-family is a family that does not maintain its own household, but lives in the home of someone else. Family status is determined at the time of the survey interview and, thus, may be different from that of the previous year. Families are further categorized as follows:

  • Married-couple families refer to opposite-sex and same-sex married couples residing together and any of their family members residing in the household.

  • Families maintained by men or women are made up of householders residing with one or more family members, but with no spouse of either sex present. Unmarried domestic partners of either sex may or may not be present in the household.

Beginning in 2018, the definition of married couples in this report includes both opposite-sex and same-sex married couples. Prior to 2018, married-couple families included opposite-sex married-couple families only. Therefore, beginning in 2018, estimates for married-couple families and families maintained by men or women may not be comparable to those from prior years because of the change in the definition of marital status.

Unrelated individuals are people who are not living with anyone related to them by birth, marriage, or adoption. Such individuals may live alone or live with other individuals to whom they may not be related. Beginning in 2018, estimates for unrelated individuals may not be comparable to those from prior years because of the change in the definition of marital status.

Related children refer to children under age 18 who are living in the household and are related to the householder. Included are own children (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. Beginning in 2018, estimates for related children may not be comparable to those from prior years because of the change in the definition of marital status.

Race is reported by the household respondent. 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.

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