Wednesday, April 29, 2015

ThinkProgress: Families of Color Likely to Remain in Poverty Even If They Work

According to ThinkProgress, families are color are likely to remain poor even if they work. Almost half of minority working families are poor or low-income. More than a third of African-American and Latino working families make less than $32,000 a year. In contrast, just 13 percent of white and Asian-American families find themselves in that same income bracket.

Some people argue that the poor are poor because they lack a work ethic. But hard work doesn’t mean American families can pay the bills. Nearly a third of the country’s 32.6 million working families, or 10.6 million, were low-income in 2013, or had incomes that fell below 200 percent of the poverty line, according to a new report from The Working Poor Families Project.

And race plays a huge role. Working families headed by people of color are twice as likely to wind up in poverty anyway as compared with white families. The report finds that nearly half, or 47 percent, of working families headed by racial or ethnic minorities are poor or low income, compared to just 23 percent of white families. Breaking it down further, 55 percent of working Latino and nearly half of African-American and Native American families who work are low income, but less than a quarter of white families are.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Decline of the American Dream in the U.S.

Everyone around the world knows the American Dream. According to The Cheat Sheet, a USA Today content partner, the American Dream is "a concept that doesn't have a strict definition, but is typically explained as the ability to improve one's standing in society through hard work and education, and ultimately share a piece of America's prosperity with a home, property, and other basic necessities." We learn the classic "rags-to-riches" Horatio Alger story in classroom where impoverished boys rise from their humble backgrounds to middle-class security through honesty, determination, and hard work. While most of us take it for granted that anyone can achieve upward social mobility, the American Dream has become less realistic today. Economic mobility has stunted for most Americans due to several factors: stagnant wage growth, increase in low-wage jobs, the rising cost of living and health care, mounting student debt, and the decline of organized labor. The American Dream that we proudly cherish has become more unattainable than ever, particularly among historically disenfranchised communities of color.

That is, the American Dream is now easier to attain for people who live outside of America than those who live in it. Or, another way to put it is that economic mobility has been stunted in the U.S. As far back as 2004 the progressive think tank The Century Foundation argued that "recent evidence shows that there is much less mobility in the United States than most people assume," and that "rags to rags and riches to riches are now the norm in this country to a greater degree than in many other developed nations."

It goes on to say: "Our current education system, anti-discrimination laws, and other public policy tools that aim to give the children of poor parents a fair shot at a high income are not getting the job done. We may all believe in the American Dream, but we have a lot of work to do if we are to make that dream a reality."

Related Content: Why is Social Welfare So Expensive? (Cheat Sheet)