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Blacks, Hispanics a third of New York’s low-income working families

Stephon Johnson | 3/26/2015, 10:41 a.m.
Something that passes the eye test for many continues to have statistics backing it up.A new report published by the ...
Poverty still remains an issue.

Something that passes the eye test for many continues to have statistics backing it up.

A new report published by the Working Poor Families Project reveals that out of the 584,829 working families in New York that were considered low income in 2013, 381,000 (65 percent) were ethnic minorities. Thirty-five percent (203,000) were white.

The report, a national initiative supported by the Annie E. Casey, Ford, Joyce and Kresge foundations, considered low-income working families those that earn below 200 percent of the official poverty rate.

“In 2013, working families headed by racial/ethnic minorities were twice as likely to be poor or low-income compared with non-Hispanic whites, a gap that has increased since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007,” the report states. “The significant differences among racial/ethnic groups present a critical challenge to ensuring economic growth and bringing opportunities to all workers, families and communities across the United States.”

The report also reveals that Black and Hispanic working families in New York share a greater percentage of the low-income working families among minorities. In New York, 51 percent of the 197,000 Hispanic working families and 39 percent of the 278,000 Black working families have incomes less than 200 percent of the poverty rate compared with 19 percent of the 1.08 million white working families.

Nationwide, among the 10.6 million low-income working families in America, racial and ethnic minorities constitute 58 percent, even though they made up only 40 percent of all working families in the country. Also, 14 million of the 24 million children who live in low-income working families belong to racial or ethnic minorities.

“These disparities impact our economy, but they also harm the fabric of our communities here in New York,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, a New York City think tank, in a statement. “It’s past time that we address these problems at the state level.”

The Center for an Urban Future serves as the New York partner of the Working Poor Families Project.

All of the data from the Working Families Project are based on analysis of the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, with the goal of shining a bright light on the working poor and the economic gap in America, not to mention the divide between Black/Hispanic and white/Asian groups along the economic spectrum.

According to the report, Latinos are at risk more than others because many of their low-income working families include at least one immigrant parent.

So how does the study recommend the problem be fixed? The report advises that New York legislators pursue policies that would improve ecenomic conditions, such as raising the minimum wage, increasing need-based financial aid for postsecondary education, expanding child care assistance, supporting programs that link education to career opportunities, helping those who are learning English for the first time and encouraging employers to provide paid sick leave for workers.

“Reducing racial/ethnic economic disparities will not only improve economic conditions for millions of lower-income parents, but will also benefit children, who are at the forefront of racial/ethnic change,” stated the report. “Eliminating racial/ethnic poverty gaps would potentially reduce the number of children in poverty by 45 percent in 2050, compared with the projected number of poor children if current disparities persist.”