How Expensive It Is To Be Poor

…is the title of this op-ed from the NYT over the weekend. The piece highlights a recent Pew study finding that most wealthy Americans think that poor people have it easy then debunks that myth with some sobering numbers. These include the fact that an estimated 11 million Americans work without making enough to move out of poverty, and the fact the poorest fifth of American pay a higher percentage of their earnings in taxes than the wealthiest fifth. Another eye-popping number is the cost of being "unbanked" (i.e., not served by a financial institution), as many low-income Americans are: the article quotes a study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve calculating that when you add up the costs associated with cashing checks and buying money orders, a household with a net income of $20,000 might pay 6% of its income in fees. The steep cost of transportation for low-income individuals and the outsize effect of court fees and fines for minor offenses also contribute to the difficulties of being poor in America, as the article describes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *