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10.9 percent of families with one member in the labor force lived below the poverty level in 2018

July 24, 2020

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. In 2018, 10.9 percent of families with only one member in the labor force for more than half the year were living below the poverty level. This compared with 1.3 percent for families with two or more members in the labor force.

Percent of families with one or more members in the labor force for 27 weeks or more who lived below the poverty level in 2018
Characteristic All families Married-couple families Families maintained by women Families maintained by men

At least one member in the labor force

5.3% 2.8% 15.2% 7.2%

One member in the labor force

10.9 6.5 20.5 10.6

Two or more members in the labor force

1.3 0.9 4.0 2.1

Among families with only one member in the labor force for at least 27 weeks in 2018, married-couple families were less likely to be living below the poverty level, at 6.5 percent, than were families maintained by women, at 20.5 percent, or families maintained by men, at 10.6 percent. Among families with two or more members in the labor force, families maintained by women were more likely to be living below the poverty level, at 4.0 percent, than were families maintained by men, at 2.1 percent, or married-couple families at 0.9 percent.

These data are from to the Current Population Survey. To learn more, see "A Profile of the Working Poor, 2018." Poverty thresholds vary, depending on the size of the family. In 2018, the weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four was $25,701 per year. Married couples include both opposite-sex and same-sex married couples. Prior to 2018, married-couple families included opposite-sex married-couple families only.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, 10.9 percent of families with one member in the labor force lived below the poverty level in 2018 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2020/10-point-9-percent-of-families-with-one-member-in-the-labor-force-lived-below-the-poverty-level-in-2018.htm (visited September 26, 2021).

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