About 45 percent of Americans — just under half — life without economic security, meaning they don't earn enough to cover basic expenses like college tuition or cushion funds for life's emergencies, a report from Wider Opportunities for Women shows.
"We’re really looking at not just the lowest of the lowest income households but that slice of households that live somewhere above the poverty line but are constantly in danger of being thrown into financial catastrophe," says Donna Addkison, president and chief executive of Wider Opportunities for Women, according to the New York Times.
Even having a job doesn't cut it financially, as less than 13 percent of the jobs that the Labor Department projects will be created by 2018 will pay what's needed to live without financial insecurity.
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"We have a construct in this country that if you work full time and keep your nose clean and live by the rules, you will get that full-time job that allows you to take care of your family," Addkison says.
"And what we’re finding is that workers who are working full time or the equivalent are still struggling."
The numbers reflect Census Bureau data that finds 49.1 million Americans, or 16 percent of the total, live in poverty.
More sophisticated methodology used during Census studies reveals that more Americans are living below the poverty line than previously thought.
A high-profile supercommittee made up of six Republicans and six Democrats recently failed in its task to find ways to shave $1.2 trillion off the country's deficits, with entitlement programs serving as a sticking point.
Some economists say debts need to come down but not when it comes to programs helping low-income Americans.
"I am in favor of austerity, but not in this area," says Harm Bandholz, chief U.S. economist at UniCredit Research in New York, according to Reuters.
"This is the only austerity going on and this is hitting the long-term unemployed. It's not improving the long-term budget situation anyway."
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