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Last Updated: 02/01/2018

Article of Interest - The Economy

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Bridges4Kids LogoWorking Hard, Falling Short: 9.2 Million Families Barely Getting By
Annie E. Casey, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations, October 12, 2004
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On October 12, 2004 a 36 page report titled: Working Hard, Falling Short
- America's Working Families and the Pursuit of Economic Security was released by the Annie E. Casey, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations. It shows that 9.2 million working families in the United States - one out of every four - earn wages that are so low they are barely able to survive financially. 20 million children are in these low-income working families.

The median income for a family of four in the U.S. is $62,732. According to the study, a family of four earning less than $36,784 is considered low-income. A family of four earning less than $18,392 is considered poor. The 9.2 million struggling families cited by the report fell into one of the latter two categories. Seventy-one percent of low-income families work. More than half of these families are headed by married couples.

According to the study, one in five workers are in occupations where the median wage is less than $8.84 an hour, which is a poverty-level wage for a family of four. A full-time job at the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour is not even sufficient to keep a family of three out of poverty.

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census for 2003, 29 percent of Michigan families have incomes below $35,000 per year. 129,831 Michigan families earn less than $10,000 per year.

According to federal government statistics, the median annual rent for a two-bedroom apartment in major metropolitan markets is more than $8,000. The annual cost of food for a low-income family of four is nearly $4,000. Utility bills are nearly $2,000. Transportation costs are about $1,500. Because these families are working, there are added costs for child care, health care and clothing. This coming winter home heating bills are expected to rise significantly.

One of the purposes of "Working Hard, Falling Short" is to help initiate a national discussion on the plight of families who are doing the right thing but not earning enough to get ahead.

The report, including the executive summary, findings, and recommendations, is available at


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