Blog Action Day — The Working Poor

Today is blog action day, and the topic is poverty.  I have been lax on this, and have not written a post.  However, I found a great post on The Monster Blog that I’d like to share here.

I read Nickled and Dimed when it was first published.  It is a powerful book.  Take a look at the Monster Blog post…

Several years ago, I read a book called Nickel and Dimed. The author, Barbara Ehrenreich, went undercover to take low-skill, low-wage jobs such as hotel maid and waitress to see what life was like for these workers. What she found disturbed me: A culture of people living right under the public radar, struggling while trying to earn a living. I have never forgotten that book or the stories within it.

Unfortunately, while the book was first published in 2001, the working poor still hold a large — and growing — place in society. According to Census data, the number of jobs paying poverty-level wages increased by 4.7 million between 2002 and 2006. We all know the economy is in the tank now; what’s surprising is the study period was one of relative prosperity, which means the tough times of today bode even worse for those below the poverty line.

It’s easy to think of the poor as jobless and living in a cardboard box. But the reality is that many work just as hard, if not harder, than anyone else, but struggle paycheck to paycheck and often go to bed hungry. One alarming statistic: 40 percent of adults asking for emergency food asistance are employed.

So why talk about this now? Well, today is Blog Action Day, and this year’s theme is poverty.  And in a financial crisis, with the holidays coming up and a pivotal presidential election less than a month away, we at the Monster Blog wanted to devote space to the issue.

Want to help? Then educate yourself about the working poor. While there are many agencies that advocate for low-wage workers on a state level, The Working Poor Families Project  is a national initiative that deserves a mention. And here is a list from Blog Action Day’s Web site of resources dedicated to fighting poverty. Check it out, and whatever you decide to do, as they say, think globally, but act locally.

The common sense point here is simple.  None of us is free from poverty until all of us are free from poverty.  That’s why I support the blog action day focus on poverty — especially the working poor.  Educate yourself about the working poor.  They are the forgotten people in our society.  Do what you can to help.  We’ll all be better off for it.

Thanks for reading.


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  1. and thanks for posting.
    for my part, i turn to sites like freerice, kiva, and goodsearch, as ways to help alleviate poverty online.
    saw this post via the front page of blog action day. it’s great that you’re participating. 🙂

  2. Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a follow up to that book telling how bad things have gotten for even white collar workers like receptionists and other clerical worker.
    Seems like these days most of those jobs want to pay $10 per hour or less and some don’t give any benefits either.
    By the way, has anyone defined what the dollar amount is of poverty level wages?

  3. indeed. over here in the philippines, people get paid much less. even with our lower costs, basic salaries tend not to be enough.

  4. Kouji and Laura:
    Thanks for your comments.
    I’ve read the follow up book that Ms. Ehrenreich wrote. It makes a great point about the plight of older professional workers who get laid off, and the difficulties they face in finding another job. Because she posed as a downsized employee looking for a job, the second book, in my opinion, is not as powerful as “Nickled and Dimed.”
    Reagrdless, Barbara Ehrenreich has written two books that focus on subjects that too many of us would rather ignore.
    By the way, I also saw a stage production of “Nickled and Dimed” several years ago. It was a benefit for a battered woman’s shelter. Many women who end up in these shelters are among the working poor.
    That was a great idea. I am going to look into the possibility of reviving that proiduction so it can continue to benefit the working poor.
    Thanks again for both of your comments.

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