A Misconception About the Working Poor

Many of you who will read this post grew up with the same understanding of America as me: if you work hard and play fair, you will succeed. Or something like that. But the idea that hard-work leads economic prosperity and independence is slowly fading.

A recent report by the Working Poor Families Project exemplifies the struggles of many working-class American families that work hard to provide for themselves and their children. It dispels common myths that dominate the usual discourse when social safety nets are proposed for struggling families, and illustrates the economic inequalities that exist in our society:

In Washington state alone, 24% of working families are low income—and the vast majority of these families have housing costs greater than 1/3 of their net income.

American families are working harder than ever, and still find themselves falling short of meeting basic family needs. With retirement accounts evaporating and health care costs soaring, the dreams of retirement security and self-sufficiency are fading.

Here in Washington State, it is our responsibility to ensure that the promise of the American Dream is available for every generation. And government legislation that guarantees paid family leave insurance, a strong minimum wage and a fairer tax structure will help ensure working families – like many of our financial institutions – get the support they need to survive during tough economic times.

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