What being American and poor is really like | Deseret News National
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Kiichiro Sato, Associated Press
Moneywise

What being American and poor is really like

Not having a job isn't the only way to get thrust into poverty.

You could have a job and still find miserable conditions.

It’s a common scenario where those who have jobs are actually in poor conditions. Those workers, caught in poverty and in a version of hell, are the working poor and are the subject of Carly Schwartz’ latest piece for The Huffington Post.

“Through their words, we see what it's really like to be ‘working poor’ in America — and just how much more it looks like rock bottom than most would imagine,” Schwartz wrote. “Being working poor means toiling through ‘pure hell’ for next to nothing.”

Schwartz’s article looks at a bundle of different scenarios where the working poor struggle along as people try to make ends meet. Some workers can’t reach “fundamental human needs,” while others have a tough time raising kids, Schwartz wrote.

“I think that our kids are going to have a lot harder time than we’ve had,” said Jennifer Blankenship, 39, and a mother of four, to HuffPost. “And that’s scary, because we’ve had a really hard time.”

Kids might have a hard time for more reasons than just the state of America’s minimum wage or economy. Charles M. Blow of The New York Times wrote Sunday that poverty is more than just a state of mind, but rather a situation that people get put into.

"Poverty is a demanding, stressful, depressive and often violent state,” Blow wrote. “No one seeks it; they are born or thrust into it. In poverty, the whole of your life becomes an exercise in coping and correcting, searching for a way up and out, while focusing today on filling the pots and the plates, maintaining a roof and some warmth, and dreading the new challenge tomorrow may bring.”

But not everything is getting worse in the job market. For one, black Americans are seeing an increase in job opportunities despite an increase in drug testing, which many assumed would be a hinderance on the demographic's job prospects, reported Bijan Stephen for Time magazine.

Stephen’s report came after a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research published a paper written by Abigail Wozniak, which found that black employment increased between 7 and 30 percent after drug testing.

“A common assumption is that the rise of drug testing must have had negative consequences for black employment,” Wozniak wrote. “However, the rise of employer drug testing may have benefited African-Americans by enabling non-using blacks to prove their status to employers.”

The overall state of employment is also improving in many parts of the United States. Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska and the Dakotas were recently ranked as having particularly low unemployment, according to Vox. However, these low unemployment states, wrote Matthew Yglesias for Vox, aren't the major urbanized metropolises, but the more rural midwestern states with lower populations.

"Unfortunately for the country, the six very low unemployment states on the map have about 7.5 million total residents," Yglesias wrote. "Somewhat fewer than New York City."

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @herbscribner