Arizona working families rank among lowest in U.S. for salaries needed for basic necessities

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PHOENIX, Ariz. -  A new report released Jan. 23 by the Working Poor Families Project painted a dismal picture of the struggles working families are having to pay for basic necessities.

Even with an improving economy with more than 70 percent of low-income families and half of all poor families working in 2011, the report, “Low-Income Working Families:  The Growing Economic Gap,” showed that nearly one in every three working families earn salaries so low they can’t pay for basic living expenses.

Arizona ranked 47th among all states with 39 percent of working families that are low-income, or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($21,780 for one person, $44,700 for a family of four).  The report showed that of the 652,000 working families in Arizona, 255,000 were low-income.

“In Arizona, we remain at crisis level for families unable to make ends meet even though they may be working,” said Cynthia Zwick, executive director, Arizona Community Action Association.  “And the situation may be deeply impacted by upcoming decisions that could severely cut funding to federal programs that help working families.  We’re talking about those most at risk including children.”

Zwick said that ACAA is compiling an online database of poverty statistics for Arizona that includes information for every county in the state as well as all cities and towns with populations above 5,000 and each congressional and legislative district. The information will be available by the end of January on the ACAA website (AZCAA.org).

“Those numbers show that nearly 1 in every 5 Arizonans lives below the poverty level,” Zwick said.  “In Apache and Navajo counties, the ratio is 1 in every 3 residents and the poverty rate in Douglas, Guadalupe, San Luis and South Tucson is above 30 percent.”

Key findings from The Working Poor Families Project show that the number of low-income working families in the United States increased from 10.2 million in 2010 to 10.4 million in 2011, with the total number of people in low-income working families is 47.5 million.

The richest 20 percent of working families took home nearly half (48%) of all income while those in the bottom 20 percent received less than 5 percent.

For more information about the report, go to www.workingpoorfamilies.org.

For additional information about services and programs for low-income individuals and families, visit www.azcaa.org or call the Arizona Community Action Association at (602) 604-0640.

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