Issues

Workers and Poverty

For many Americans, a job is not enough to ensure economic well-being. About three million workers live in poverty despite working year-round in full-time jobs. A third of poor families with children include a full-time worker and nearly 60 percent of families below 200 percent of poverty have a family member who works full-time, year-round.While low-income workers struggle to make ends meet because of low-paying jobs, many also are impoverished when laws designed to protect workers’ income and benefits are violated. These laws include overtime compensation, minimum wage, misclassifying employees as independent contractors and statutes against child labor.In addition, many low-income workers face low quality jobs with few benefits. The Family Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for serious illness or the birth/adoption of a child, but firms under 50 employees are exempt, leaving about half the workforce unprotected. Since there is no federal law related to paid leave for private sector workers, each employer decides whether and to what degree to provide paid leave. About 40 percent of the American private sector workforce has no paid sick days. Many low-income workers also have limited opportunity for career advancement and must contend with unpredictable schedules that make it difficult to secure regular child care and maintain a stable family life. Improvements in job quality can significantly improve the lives of low-income working families. This section of the Spotlight website gathers the latest research, news and opinion on workers and poverty from experts in the field, policy makers and the media. 
Find the latest academic and government reports on workers and poverty. Click Here > 
Read up to date workers and poverty news compiled by Spotlight. Click Here > 
Find out what leading national figures, experts and advocates are saying about workers and poverty in these exclusive Spotlight commentaries and newspaper opinion pieces. Click Here > 
Check out a compilation of other key resources on the intersection of workers and and poverty. Click Here >
Check out a compilation of key polls on the intersection of workers and and poverty. Click Here >

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