Kentucky’s Working Families Struggling to Make Ends Meet—
New Report Finds 30 Percent of Kentucky Working Families are Low-Income
October 14, 2008
Editors’ Advisory: There will be a conference call with the authors of “Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short” on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 1 p.m. Please call 1-866-305-2467, code 381405.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new national report finds that 30 percent of working families in Kentucky are low-income and 24 percent of the jobs in the state are in occupations that pay below the federal poverty level for a family of four.
“Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short,” a follow-up to the 2004 report “Working Hard, Falling Short” found that nationwide, more than one in four working families — a total of 42 million adults and children — were low-income in 2006, earning too little to meet their basic needs. This is an increase of 350,000 working families who have become low-income since 2002. This increase came during a period of economic expansion, suggesting that those numbers will continue to grow during this current economic downturn.
The report provides detailed data on low-income working families in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to providing figures on the number of low-income workers and their children, the report also looks at education levels, racial makeup, housing costs and health insurance coverage.
“These findings show that economic development in Kentucky must be about more than just creating jobs,” said Justin Maxson, President of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED). “We must pay more attention to improving job quality so workers are able to support their families.”
“Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short” was produced by the Working Poor Families Project, a national initiative supported by the Annie E. Casey, Ford, Joyce, and C.S. Mott Foundations to examine the conditions of America’s working families.
The report calls for stronger policies for working families at both the state and federal level. Inadequate education plays a major role in preventing low-income workers from climbing the economic ladder and federal and state resources for adult education or skills training program meet only about one-tenth of the need.
“Kentucky’s economic development and workforce development system should be more closely aligned,” said Maxson. “We must figure out a more comprehensive strategy to grow enterprises and connect more Kentuckians to jobs with career ladders. And we must provide stronger supports for people ranging from a state earned-income tax credit to better access to high quality child care.”
A number of factors come into play in states that have successfully reduced their number of low-income working families, including investing in job training programs, increasing their minimum wage above the federal wage standard, and supporting initiatives such as paid parental level for family and medical needs.
Among the other findings specific to Kentucky:
• 34 percent of children in Kentucky live in low-income working families.
• 28 percent of low-income working families in Kentucky have at least one parent without a high school degree and 57 percent have at least one parent without any post-secondary education.
• 47 percent of minority working families in Kentucky are low-income.
• 34 percent of low-income working families in Kentucky have at least one parent with no health insurance.
For additional information, go to www.workingpoorfamilies.org.
Jason Bailey, Research & Policy Director, MACED