Low-Income Working Families: The Racial/Ethnic Divide

There is a large and growing economic divide among America’s 32.6 million working families,2 with whites and Asians at the top and other racial/ethnic groups falling behind. In 2013, working families headed by racial/ethnic minorities were twice as likely to be poor or low-income (47 percent) compared with non-Hispanic whites (23 percent)—a gap that has increased since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007.* While low-income working families comprise close to one-third of all working families in America, 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.

In this brief, we highlight new Census Bureau data on low-income working families and differences across racial/ ethnic groups. Recognizing that public policy can play a critical role in our future prosperity by reversing these conditions, we recommend state government policies and actions that would improve conditions for millions of lower-income parents and their children, reduce inequality and promote economic growth by ensuring a well-qualified workforce and a sufficient number of jobs with wages and benefits that support a family.

The Working Poor Families Project