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Playing by the Rules But Losing the Game: America's Working Poor

Authors: Gregory Acs, Katherin Ross Phillips, and Daniel McKenzie, Urban Institute. Overview: Using data from the National Survey of America's Families (NSAF), this paper examines how alternative hours and income thresholds alter the size of the working poor population. The paper settled on a broad definition of the working poor that counts a family as poor if its income falls below twice the federal poverty line and as working if the average annual hours worked by all adult family members exceeds 1000 (approximate half-time). It proceeds to examine the demographic characteristics of the working poor and compare those to demographics of poor families that do not work and to those of non-poor families that do work.

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