Working poor reaches 10.5 million in 2013

July 30, 2015

The number of "working poor" in the United States was 10.5 million in 2013. The working poor are people who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force during the year—either working or looking for work—but whose incomes were below the official poverty level. The working-poor rate, or the ratio of the working poor to all those in the labor force for at least 27 weeks, was 7.0 percent in 2013.

Percentage of people in the labor force for 27 weeks or more whose income fell below the poverty level, 1986–2013
Year Working-poor rate

1986

6.2

1987

5.5

1988

5.4

1989

5.3

1990

5.5

1991

6.1

1992

6.3

1993

6.7

1994

6.2

1995

5.9

1996

5.8

1997

5.7

1998

5.4

1999

5.1

2000

4.7

2001

4.9

2002

5.3

2003

5.3

2004

5.6

2005

5.4

2006

5.1

2007

5.1

2008

6.0

2009

7.0

2010

7.2

2011

7.0

2012

7.1

2013

7.0

Note: the working poor are people who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force (either working or looking for work) but whose incomes still fell below the official poverty level. The working-poor rate is the number of working poor as a percentage of all people who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force.

In 2013, the number of women classified as working poor (5.4 million) was higher than that of men (5.0 million). Similarly, the working-poor rate continued to be higher for women (7.8 percent) than for men (6.3 percent).

Blacks and Hispanics were more than twice as likely as Whites and Asians to be among the working poor. In 2013, the working-poor rate was 13.3 percent for Blacks, 12.8 percent for Hispanics, 6.1 percent for Whites, and 4.5 percent for Asians.

These data were collected in the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey. To learn more, see "A Profile of the Working Poor, 2013" (PDF), July 2015. Poverty thresholds vary, depending on the size of the family. In 2013, the weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four was $23,834 per year. People whose ethnicity is Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Working poor reaches 10.5 million in 2013 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2015/working-poor-over-10-million-in-2013.htm (visited December 13, 2017).

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