Working, yet living below the poverty line: ‘The Working Poor’

Posted on July 23, 2015 by Micheál Collins

One in every seven of the Irish population (15.2%) lives on an income which is less than the official poverty line – about €202 per adult per week. Given a population of approximately 4.61 million people this implies that just over 700,000 people live at risk of poverty.

In the latest edition of the NERI’s Quarterly Economic Facts document, indicator 5.3 examines the composition of those living below the poverty line in Ireland. The latest data, for 2013, is reproduced in the chart below.

Of all those who are at risk of poverty almost 12% are at work. This group, often labelled ‘the working poor’, represent 5% of all workers in the Republic. Overall, poverty is most common among those who are unemployed, students and working in the home.

Despite the fact that the rate of relative income poverty (5%) is low among those whose principle economic status is work, the fact that the working population is a significant part of the population aged 16 years and above results in a large number of workers being in poverty. The 2013 figure implies approximately 82,000 workers live in poverty.

These figures add further context to current considerations around low pay, minimum wages, the living wage, the state-subsidisation of low paid employment via FIS and precarious work. All topics addressed in a selection of recent NERI research papers and blogs - see list below.

The latest edition of the NERI's Quarterly Economic Facts is available here.

Other links:

     NERI QEO Spring 2015 – see section 4 profiling those who are Low Paid

     Research Paper: Who is on the Minimum Wage?

     Blog on the 2015 Living Wage Update (€11.50 per hour)

     Blog on Working Families and FIS

Posted in: InequalityJobsWages

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