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.
|Characteristic||All families||Married-couple families||Families maintained by women||Families maintained by men|
At least one member in the labor force
One member in the labor force
Two or more members in the labor force
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.
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).