( – promoted by Colorado Pols)
The Bell Policy Center has released a report that finds Colorado’s low-income working families are headed in the wrong direction — down the economic ladder.
The report says that, even before the economic downturn, these families were struggling and falling behind.
These are hard-working families. They clean our offices, they serve us fast food and make our hotel beds. They represent an essential segment of our workforce, and their contributions are important to our state’s economy.
Some of the report’s findings and how they compare to a similar report in 2004:
The number of working poor families in our state has grown by 51 percent, from 32,124 families living in poverty, representing 5.8 percent of working families, to 48,410 (8.3 percent).
More than 25 percent of working families do not earn enough to meet their basic needs. That’s 151,875 families. Six years ago, 20 percent were in this boat.
More low-wage workers have little security for the future, with the number of workers without any type of employer-provided pension growing by almost 275,000, to almost 1.7 million, since 2004.
With an eye on the upcoming legislative session, the Bell Policy Center recommends policies and public investments in two key areas: adult basic education and making low-wage jobs more secure.
Almost half of poor working families have a parent without a high school diploma or a GED. Adults without a high school education are not prepared for the 21st century workforce. Expanding opportunities for adults to increase their education and develop greater skills can lead to a pathway out of poverty.
To bolster the low-wage workforce, polices such as the Earned Income Tax Credit can help make low-wage jobs pay better, and policies can also encourage partnerships with business to make it easier for workers to save for retirement.
These are important areas where specific policies can help workers move up the economic ladder. But we also note that our state’s lack of revenues limits, in much a broader way, our ability to pursue policies and make investments in public systems and structures that create opportunity. That problem existed before the current economic downturn, and it will exist after a recovery – and we must address that problem so that we can expand opportunities for all Coloradans.