In the lower 48 states, a single adult earning $12,140 or less has an income below the poverty line. For families, the poverty line increases by $4,320 for every additional family member. Though work generally provides enough income to the typical U.S. household to stay out of poverty, many working Americans earn poverty and near-poverty wages and struggle daily to make ends meet.
Many Americans who work less than full-time live in poverty, but a 40-hour-per-week job by no means guarantees financial well-being. Today, there are more than 5 million Americans who work full-time jobs year-round and still earn less than $15,000 a year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While some may be single and live alone, many likely have families to support, including children.
Low-wage workers are concentrated more heavily in some states than in others. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed U.S. Census Bureau data to determine the states where the highest share of full-time workers people make under $15,000 a year.
Full-time employees who earn less than $15,000 are more common in states with lower educational attainment rates — many of which are located in the South. These states also have relatively high rates of residents who rely on SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, to help with groceries. These states also tend to have high unemployment rates. Workers may be forced to take low-paying jobs because of the difficult economic conditions in these states.
To determine the states where the most people earn under $15,000 a year, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on the percentage of full-time, year-round workers who earn $1-$14,999 from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey.
|Geography||Full-Time workers earning <$15,000||Rank||Full-time workers earning <$15,000||Rank|