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Why Don't We Pay People Enough? 8 Facts About America's Struggling Working People

Millions of people in the U.S. work and are still poor.

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Eight.  What about jobs for the unemployed and underemployed? 

The US Labor Department estimated recently that 13 million people were unemployed.  Another 8 million people were working part-time but wanted full-time work.  Even more millions who are not working are not counted in those numbers because they have been unemployed so long. 

A study by Northeastern University found that in the poorest families, unemployment is nearly 31 percent. Underemployment is also much more of a problem in poor homes, with over 20 percent of those workers reporting they are working part-time but seeking full-time work. 

 Our nation can do so much more.  We say our country values work.  It is time to do something about it.

If the US truly values work, we need to support the millions of our sisters and brothers who are low wage workers.  Steps needed include: raising the minimum wage to a living wage; protecting workers from getting ripped off; making it easier for workers to organize together if they choose to; and creating jobs, public jobs if necessary, so that everyone who wants to work can do so.  Many are already working on these justice issues. 

For those interested in learning more about this, see the websites of Interfaith Worker Justice, the National Employment Law Project, and the National Jobs for All Coalition.

Bill teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and is Associate Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Thanks to Rob Dordan and Kim Bobo for help with this.