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The "working poor" status is a growing problem in Florida

If you've been struggling to pay your bills like many Floridians, especially if you feel your situation has been growing worse for months, you may fit into a classification that economists call the "working poor." This wage bracket includes low-income families with one or more people in the household who work, but as a whole the family still doesn't make a living wage. According to U.S. Census data, Florida is one of the states with a percentage increase of five points or more of families who are considered to be part of the working poor.

A noted sociologist says that the gap between the well-off and the struggling continues to widen. It's hard for low-income families to rise above their financial challenges when the most numerous jobs today tend to be low-end positions such as food service, retail and entry-level clerical. There is an increase in jobs that pay either high or low wages, but opportunities in the middle income level are stagnating.

This news is made harder to digest by the possibility of some state and federal assistance programs being cut, which in the past would offer relief to the working poor. Medical care, education, and skills training are among the programs that could be more difficult to obtain in the future, or eliminated.

It's unclear yet how the growing numbers of working poor will affect people filing for bankruptcy in Florida. Perhaps, since our struggling economy continues to slowly improve, these numbers will also gradually turn for the better. In the meantime, it might be prudent for hurting families to learn about the programs still available to them and to consider speaking with a bankruptcy attorney about debt relief and other options.

Source: AnnArbor.com, "2013 Forecast: Plight of the working poor?" Wayne Baker, Jan. 16, 2013

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