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  Working Poor

Planning for Retirement on a Low Income provides low income retirees and their advisors with the information and the tools they need to make the right decisions for their financial future.

Work-life Balance and Overload of Shift Workers - Over 4 million workers aged 19 to 64 worked something other than a regular day shift in 2005. Of these shift workers, about 3.3 million worked full time, that is, 30 or more hours a week. Read the article in the August 2008 issue of Perspectives here. [Source: CSRL-news]

Make Work Pay - This Caledon commentary explores various actions that governments and employers can take to improve the earnings of the working poor.  One in four Canadian workers makes just $10 an hour or less and close to half (44 percent) of low-income households have at least one working adult.  This commentary focuses upon essential changes to the amount and design of the Working Income Tax Benefit - the federal policy measure whose intended purpose is to help make work pay. Download the paper here. [Source: The Caledon Institute of Social Policy]

New Hope for the Working Poor - Based on the simple premise that people who work full time should not be poor, New Hope provided full-time workers with several benefits: an earnings supplement to raise their income above poverty, low-cost health insurance, and subsidized child care.  This report summarizes the program's implementation and effects over eight years - the first three years while the program operated and five years after it had ended. Learn more here. [Source: HandsNet WebClipper]

Work Isn’t Working for Ontario Families - In the face of mounting evidence on the role of the labour market in family poverty, Campaign 2000 joined with the Toronto & York Region Labour Council and the Canadian Labour Congress (Ontario Region) to call for the inclusion of a good jobs strategy in the provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy. Their joint report establishes that many Ontario parents cannot achieve financial security for their families not because they can’t find work, but because they can’t find a good job. Download the executive summary here. [Source: CSRL newsletter]

Low-income Households Missing Alberta's Boom - Alberta is Canada's hottest economy. Many Canadians are moving to Alberta, drawn by its insatiable demand for skilled workers and professionals. This report profiles people who are working full-time in Alberta but whose family income is below what is needed to purchase a "market basket" of goods and services that supports living decently. It identifies the challenges facing workers in low-income Alberta households despite the province's extraordinary economic performance, and offers a range of ideas for public policy that will strengthen support to them. Learn more here. [Source: CPRN]

Risk and Opportunity - This paper describes public policy objectives and strategies to help vulnerable workers live decently and realize their potential to contribute to the economy. Read the paper here. [Source: CPRN]

Place Matters - Spatial factors and location are often missed, but they are critical pieces of the puzzle in developing public and private policies that support working families. This paper summarizes factors determining locational decisions of businesses and workers, as well as local economic growth, and suggests how employer needs and opportunities for low-income workers might be served by successful policies in the areas of housing, transportation, education and workforce development. There is no single strategy or national blueprint that will work everywhere. Learn more here. [Source: The Urban institute]

Low-Income Working Families Project - This new Urban Institute project applies rigorous research methods to track families over time and to analyze the risks these families face. It incorporates crosscutting research expertise, from housing to health care and labor markets, honed at the Urban Institute over the past 40 years. Learn more here. [Source: The Urban Institute]

Rising Profit Shares, Falling Wage Shares - Canadians are working harder and smarter, contributing to a growing economy, but their paycheques have been stagnant for the past 30 years, says a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The study finds that Canada’s economy grew steadily and workers’ productivity improved by 51 per cent in the past 30 years, but workers’ average real wages have been stuck in a holding pattern all this time. Download the report here. [Source: CCPA]

The Poverty Business - Business Week takes a look inside U.S. companies' audacious drive to extract more profits from the nation's working poor. Read the article here. [Source: CSRL news]

Credit Boom & Bust in Lower-Income Markets - The recent subprime implosion is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Americans borrowing more than they can manage. About one out of every three lower income borrowers falls behind on bill payments in a typical year, and over one out of every four now pays more than 40 percent of their income every year on debt payments. Learn more here. [Source: HandsNet WebClipper]

When Working is not Enough to Escape Poverty - This report from HRSDC profiles the working poor in Canada, identifies the main determinants of low income for workers, and looks at the dynamics of work and low income for the working poor. The report also questions the current definition of working poverty, arguing for the use of a new, more accurate definition. Download a full copy of the report here. [Source: CSRL Newsletter]

Investing in Low-Wage Workers - While child care is one of the fastest growing occupations, most employment in this field is precarious and low-wage. This report from Public/Private Ventures profiles a group of mostly Latina and African American women living and working in some of Rhode Island's poorest neighbourhoods who were determined to improve family childcare both for low-income families and the women who provide the care. Download the report for free here. [Source: HandsNet WebClipper]

When Work Doesn't Pay - As low-wage workers increase their earnings above the US federal poverty level, their families begin to lose eligibility for government work supports. This report addresses the difficulties faced by low-income working parents as they strive to make progress in the workforce. It highlights ways in which the current structure of work support policies often leads to unintended consequences. Read the full report here. [Source: CSRL-newsletter]

Low wage and low income - Fewer Canadians slipped into low income in 2004, while more were able to climb out, according to a new study that analyzes the economic well-being of Canadians exposed to low income and low wages. Read a summary here or and read the full report here. [Source: CSRL-news]

Low-Income Working Families - According to the Urban Institute, many low-income working families today live one health crisis or job setback away from catastrophe. We're just now starting to see strategies that might bolster economic stability, thanks to careful study rooted in family needs, the workplace, and public programs. Learn more here. [Source: HandsNet WebClipper]

Creating Options for Vulnerable Workers - The final report in CPRN's research series on vulnerable workers presents the most comprehensive analysis of the subject to date. It also proposes measures to overcome this threat to Canada's well-being and competitiveness. Download the full report here. [Source: CSRL-news]

A Working Income Tax Benefit That Works - The November 2005 federal mini-Budget planted the seeds of an innovative social program – a Working Income Tax Benefit to supplement the wages of the working poor. Caledon argues that like the National Child Benefit, the Working Income Tax Benefit should be debated and developed as a national social policy reform. Download the paper here. [Source: The Caledon Institute of Social Policy]

Driver's License Suspension is Barrier to Work - A recent study by the Brookings Institution, sponsored by the Casey Foundation, finds that driver's license suspension is a common problem for the working poor. When jobs are located far away, or require a driver's license as a condition of employment, the suspension may present an insurmountable obstacle to getting or keeping a job. A scan of 14 communities reveals that failure to pay a fine or appear in court is the usual cause of license suspension or revocation. The study includes a survey of residents and interviews with key informants. Download the study here. [Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation's Family Economic Success Newsletter]

Real-Life Struggles of Low-Income Workers - Waging A Living, a three-year project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and award-winning producer Roger Weisberg, is a stark documentary that looks at the day-to-day struggles faced by low-wage workers. Read more about Waging A Living here. [Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation's Family Economic Success Newsletter]

Fact sheet on minimum wage - Last year, 621,000 individuals worked at or below the minimum wage rate set by their province (4.6% of all employees in Canada). Women accounted for almost two-thirds of minimum wage workers and though the incidence of working for minimum wage declined sharply with age, it rose slightly among those 55 and older. Download the Statistics Canada fact sheet here. [Source: CSRL newsletter]

Paid to be Poor - A panel of distinguished Manitobans who spent last spring listening to more than 72 presentations from the public on the plight of low income workers and who have spent the summer studying the issue, have released their report. Paid to be Poor, strongly rejects the Doer government's approach of $.25 annual increases as hopelessly inadequate and as ignoring the desperate plight of low income workers (The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour). Download the report here. [Source: WIRA]

Struggle of America's Working Poor - More than one in four American working families now earn wages so low that they have difficulty surviving financially, a new report from the Working Poor Families Project concludes. The report, Working Hard, Falling Short: American's Working Families and the Pursuit of Economic Security, released in October, finds that too many jobs pay poor wages and provide no benefits, and that American workers are poorly prepared and supported to move into better paying jobs. Download the report here. [Source: AECF Family Economic Success Quarterly Newsletter]

The Price Is Wrong - This report from Brookings Institution delves into why thousands of dollars are currently drained from the budgets of Philadelphia's working families through higher prices for everyday goods and services. These higher prices ”higher than those paid by better off families for the exact same goods and services” hold back all aspiring middle class families, undermining the city's innovative efforts to combat decades of decline. Read more here. [Source: HandsNet WebClipper]

More Poor Children have Working Parents - Child poverty dropped slightly from 16.4% in 2000 to 15.6% in 2001, but according to a new report from Campaign 2000, more than half of all low-income Canadian children have working parents. "The bad news is that the underlying causes of child poverty persisted during prosperous times: a job is no longer a guaranteed escape from poverty and Canada's income security system fails to protect families from the vagaries of the economic cycle," said Laurel Rothman, National Coordinator of Campaign 2000 in a statement. The report, Honouring Our Promises: Meeting the Challenge to End Child and Family Poverty is Campaign 2000's Report Card on Child Poverty for 2003. You can read the full report here.

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