The working poor are those people that work the hardest for their dollar, work the hardest to get their paychecks, work the hardest to survive. Most of the working poor live paycheck to paycheck and like the saying goes, “robbing from Peter to pay Paul. ” There is a way out of poverty, and there is a way for these struggling individuals to escape the perils of their life in poverty. It is not an easy road out, but it is possible. It is important for those that are born into this lifestyle to know that this is not a destination; there is hope that they will live a so called “better” life.Who are the Working Poor? Before we describe who the working poor are, let’s describe what poverty is.
“There are two general methods of defining poverty. One is to use a relative definition- measuring the wealth and income of a certain population and finding out who has the least relative to the others…Another method of defining and measuring poverty is to use an absolute definition. This method sets a minimum standard of income and/or wealth, regardless of how many people are above or below the standard,” (Burger, 2008, p. 90).There are positives and negatives to both of these measures of poverty, for example, taking in the cost of living in areas may be another determining factor. The amount of money that a family makes in a rural, farm community may be just fine, but compared to a family living in the city of Chicago the amount of money does not make ends meet. The working poor are those individuals that even though they work, fall into those definitions of poverty.
They are “the forgotten America” (Shipler, 2004, p. 3).As Shipler (2004) states, “At the bottom of its working world, millions live in the shadow of prosperity, in the twilight between poverty and well-being,” (p.
3). These are hard working individuals that most of us encounter every day in our lives. We may not even know of these individuals hardships when we encounter them. Barriers to leaving poverty for the Working Poor For some the fear of the unknown stops them from searching for a good job, a job that holds a future.
For others, as described by Shipler (2004) “afraid of telling the truth, and afraid of lying,” (p. 122).In regards to those that have been arrested or convicted of a crime, the anxiety of just filling out an application or attending an interview squashes their dream and goal to get out and not be a poverty statistic. “Isolated in the projects, many like Camellia lack the encouragement and connections to find decent work until a helping hand gives a push or opens a door,” (Shipler, 2004, p. 123). There are many job openings out there, but the problem that many see are the requirements to hold the jobs that are available.
Looking through popular websites such as CareerBuilder. om many entry level data entry jobs want an individual to have at least an associate’s degree. For those individuals that did not even complete their high school education trying to find a job that meets employer’s requirements is unnerving in itself.
Another barrier to leaving is that are coexisting issues that go along with poverty. “Poverty is a critical problem because so many other problems are linked to it: juvenile delinquency, criminality, drug abuse, and mental illness are disproportionately represented in poor communities,” (Burger, 2008, p. 3).
Whether these problems occurred due to living in poverty or they are the problems that lead to the individual to live in poverty the problems seem to hold an individual back. What Works? Exit strategies for leaving Poverty It is possible to leave poverty. One hears “Cinderella” stories of stars that lived in less than ideal situations and when discovered hold true to not forgetting where they come from. Gabourey Sidibe and Jennifer Hudson are a few stars that are heard about as going from nothing to everything.
You do not have to be a star to be able to escape from poverty though. There are many programs that are available to individuals to assist them in finding employment and assistance to get out of poverty. The programs that are available are reliant on the presidents and law makers that are lobbied.
“The Bush administration had been wildly criticized for not being responsive to the needs of the poorest Americans,” (Burger, 2008, p. 20). At times an individual just needs help in getting shown the right direction. Isolated in the projects, many like Camellia lack the encouragement and connections to find decent work until a helping hand gives a push or opens a door,” (Shipler, 2004, p. 123). To be able to break out of poverty an individual must not be afraid to leave. Personal reaction & conclusion Poverty is not something that effects just a certain population; it is non-discriminative. The working poor are the heart of America.
They are people that we see every day. For those that are living this way, it is important to know that there is a way out.In Shipler (2004) book The Working Poor, he states, “George W. Bush gave voice to the myth when he was asked whether he meant to send a message with the inclusion of two blacks, a Hispanic, and two women in the first senior appointments to his incoming administration.
“You bet,” the president-elect replied: “that people who work hard and make the right decisions in life can achieve anything they want in America. ” (p. 5). There is a lot to be said with this statement. Those that work hard are able to make it out of poverty. It is a matter of getting past the barriers that are holding them back.The working poor are a very important part of America. It is possible to make it out of poverty on your own, but with the help of programs and those that work with those programs doors can be opened, and a new beginning may be in reach.
It is important not to give up. With getting past the barriers, finding employment with a future is the key for a good exit strategy.ReferencesBurger, W. (2010). Human Services in Contemporary America, 8th Edition Brooks/Cole. Shipler, D. (2004).
The Working Poor: Invisible in America: Vintage Press.