A Problem for Fighting Poverty: Fewer Than Half of American Adults Work Full-Time
Religion & Liberty Online

A Problem for Fighting Poverty: Fewer Than Half of American Adults Work Full-Time

part-time-help-wanted-blogThe single best weapon against poverty in America is a full-time job.

In 2014 the poverty rate among married couples was 6 percent; the poverty rate among married couples who both have full-time jobs was 0.001 percent.

In 2014, the Census Bureau poverty rate for a family of two was $15,379 and for a family of five was $28,695. An individual working 40 hours a week for minimum wage earns $15,080 per year. If both couples work their earnings total $30,160.

A minimum wage job isn’t going to make them rich, of course, but it’s enough to keep their family out of poverty. That’s why having enough full-time jobs is essential for reducing our nation’s poverty.

Unfortunately, fewer than half of American adults are working for an employer full-time.

The Gallup Good Jobs (GGJ) metric tracks the percentage of U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, who work for an employer full time — at least 30 hours per week. Gallup does not count adults who are self-employed, work fewer than 30 hours per week, are unemployed or are out of the workforce as payroll-employed in the GGJ metric. In January the rate was 44.7 percent.

Gallup has been tracking the GGJ since 2010, and at no point has it dropped below 42 percent. This is an extremely disturbing economic statistic. As Angela Rachidi says,

This may be one of the most critical data points for our understanding of where the poverty rate is headed. The vast majority of people who work full-time all year are not in poverty. So unless more people can find a way into the labor market through full-time work, we are unlikely to see meaningful declines in poverty in the near future.

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).