A Profile of California’s Working Poor

cali poor

Although the state of California has seen great improvement when it comes to job growth and development, there is still the lingering issue with low wage workers of the state. These people are getting poorer, and more of them are living and working in the state. Of the millions of people living in California, 354,800 of them were working in a full-time, year round position, and still fell under the federal poverty limit. This information comes from the California Budget and Policy Center, which also determined this number is 3.1 percent of the overall state full-time workforce. How can the state help these working poor?

Low wage workers earn less

The working poor of California earn less than what the same worker would make just a few short decades ago. A Policy Analyst, Luke Reidenbach said that even if the economy in California grows, hourly wages might remain the same. The value of their wages decreases over time, causing low-wage workers to become even poorer. Individuals in San Diego and other parts of California are forced to figure out ways to get money to live. This might include getting government assistance for food and housing, taking out credit cards, getting a payday loan, or obtaining pink slip loans in San Diego. They will do whatever they have to do to provide basic necessities for themselves and their family. Just last year California created the Earned Income Tax Credit for eligible low income workers. A single Californian with no children, who earns less than $6,580 per year will qualify for the credit. When you add children to the mix, these individuals might earn more. Still, there are people who are single and making less than $7000 per year, and it makes you wonder how these people live.

Who might be considered the working poor?

Based on statistics from the University of California Berkeley Labor Center, over half of low-wage earners working in California are Latino, and 40 percent were born outside of the United States. When it comes to education of these low wage workers, there was an increase in those with some college education from generations ago. However, over 50 percent of low wage workers only have a high school education, or less. Many of the working poor are cashiers, cooks, waitresses, housekeepers, and nursing aids. With such a low minimum wage, and high cost of living throughout the state, it is no wonder that the working poor is growing in numbers.

The life of some everyday low income workers

One Los Angeles resident, Fausto Hernandez Garcia, says that he only makes $9 per hour working at a car wash, and needed to figure out a way to make some extra money. On his days off, he will search for cardboard and scrap metal to sell for that little bit extra that might help him get by. Other low income workers who have a family struggle to make ends meet and live day to day. This means no money in savings and no money for their family’s future.

With this look at California’s growing low income workers, it is clear something needs to change.

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