News Story

Cure For Poverty: Hold A Full-Time, Year-Round Job

Just 2.7 percent of those who do in Michigan fall below the poverty line

Fewer than 3 out of 100 people in Michigan who work year-round full-time jobs live in poverty.

Federal guidelines placed Michigan’s 2017 poverty rate threshold at $12,060 a year for a single person. For a household of three persons, the threshold was $20,400.

Michigan’s minimum wage law requires employers to pay a wage of at least $9.25 an hour. At that rate, a person who works 40 hours a week all year round would earn $19,240.

There were 3,083,021 people in Michigan who worked year-round full-time jobs in 2017. Some 83,000 of them earned incomes that fell below the federal poverty line, according to the American Community Survey, released by the U.S. Census Bureau. That translates into just under 2.7 percent of all year-round full-time Michigan workers having poverty-level incomes.

"A full-time job is enough to pull people out of poverty most of the time,” said James Hohman, director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The share of Michigan residents of all ages living below the poverty line has declined for seven consecutive years. It was 17.5 percent of the state population in 2011, dropping to 14.2 percent in 2017, which is the lowest rate since 2007, according to the Census Bureau.

Roughly 1 million Michigan residents were over the age of 16 and lived in a household with an income below the poverty line. Within that group were 589,000 people who did not work.

“Of the 589,000 Michigan individuals age 16 and over and in poverty that the U.S. Census Bureau reports as having not worked during the year, keep in mind that this number includes those who are elderly, those who are disabled, and those age 16-18 who are still in high school — people not in the labor force and who cannot be reasonably expected to work,” said Peter Ruark, policy analyst with the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Ruark continued, “A better way to measure poverty and unemployment is to use the Census numbers for the civilian labor force age 16 and over and in poverty, of whom 75 percent were employed during the year and 25 percent were unemployed.”