The Working Poor

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The working poor are those people that work the hardest for their dollar, work the hardest to get their paychecks, work the hardest to survive. Most of the working poor live paycheck to paycheck and like the saying goes, “robbing from Peter to pay Paul.” There is a way out of poverty, and there is a way for these struggling individuals to escape the perils of their life in poverty. It is not an easy road out, but it is possible. It is important for those that are born into this lifestyle to know that this is not a destination; there is hope that they will live a so called “better” life. Who are the Working Poor?

Before we describe who the working poor are, let’s describe what poverty is. “There are two general methods of defining poverty. One is to use a relative definition- measuring the wealth and income of a certain population and finding out who has the least relative to the others…Another method of defining and measuring poverty is to use an absolute definition. This method sets a minimum standard of income and/or wealth, regardless of how many people are above or below the standard,” (Burger, 2008, p. 290). There are positives and negatives to both of these measures of poverty, for example, taking in the cost of living in areas may be another determining factor. The amount of money that a family makes in a rural, farm community may be just fine, but compared to a family living in the city of Chicago the amount of money does not make ends meet.

The working poor are those individuals that even though they work, fall into those definitions of poverty. They are “the forgotten America” (Shipler, 2004, p. 3). As Shipler (2004) states, “At the bottom of its working world, millions live in the shadow of prosperity, in the twilight between poverty and well-being,” (p. 3). These are hard working individuals that most of us encounter every day in our lives. We may not even know of these individuals hardships when we encounter them. Barriers to leaving poverty...
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