Your Sept. 6 Notable Numbers feature repeated the myth that there is such a thing as a “poverty-level” full-time job. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines the federal poverty level as, “The set minimum amount of gross income that a family needs for food, clothing, transportation, shelter and other necessities.”
In 2014 that is $11,670 for one person. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, or $15,080 per year, 23 percent above the poverty level. A couple working two full-time jobs makes $30,160 per year, 21 percent above the poverty level for a family of four.
Are there families living below the poverty level? Of course there are, but the reason isn’t a “poverty-level” job. Six children will push that two-income family just over the line, but whose fault is that? If the definition of a “poverty-level job” is based on how many people that job needs to support then every job is potentially “poverty-level.”
Gregory D. McGann