A new report from the Working Poor Families Project shows nearly a third of all working families are struggling to earn enough money to meet their basic needs.
In Connecticut, 83,000 low-income families in 2011 represent about 21 percent of the total 389,000 families living below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The figure represents a five percent increase since 2007.
A five percent increase is significant since only a handful of states saw similar growth in the number of working families living in poverty. According to the Working Poor Families Project and U.S. Census data, Connecticut and only nine other states saw an increase of five percent or more in poverty.
“Connecticut needs to invest in human infrastructure,” Jim Horan, executive director of the Connecticut Association for Human Services, said Tuesday. “We need to make sure our citizens can work hard and earn a wage that sustains housing and health care and lets them provide for their children,”
Horan’s organization credits Gov. Dannel P. Malloy with establishing the state Earned Income Tax Credit program, but also will be urging the state to do more — such as increasing the minimum wage.
“When we don’t pay somebody enough, we all pay,” Liz Dupont-Diehl, policy director for the Connecticut Association for Human Services, said.
She said increasing the minimum wage and making sure the EITC stays at its current level means poor families won’t have to rely as much on public services like Medicaid or food stamps.
“Children in poverty cost all of us for years and years,” she added.
The national report also found the gap between the top 20 percent and the bottom 20 percent continues to grow.
In 2011, the top 20 percent of working families earned 10.1 times the total income earned by the bottom 20 percent, up from 9.5 times in 2007. Stated another way, the top 20 percent took home 48 percent of all income while those in the bottom 20 percent received less than 5 percent of the economic pie.
In Connecticut, that gap has grown faster than in any other state.
According to a report by the Connecticut Association of Human Services and CT Voices for Children, the gap between the wealthy and poor in Connecticut is the second largest in the nation behind only New York.
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