WASHINGTON - More than a quarter of American working families -- or nearly 39 million people -- have trouble making ends meet and can be qualified as poor due to a fast shrinking pool of well-paying jobs, according to a new report.
The study, coming on the eve of the third and final presidential debate between President George W. Bush and his Democratic challenger, John Kerry, was likely to add fuel to the already heated political campaign, during which Kerry has been accusing Bush of outsourcing good American jobs.
"The president does not seem to understand how many middle class families are being squeezed by falling incomes, and spiraling health care, tuition and energy costs," the Massachusetts senator stated just last week, pointing out that 1.6 million private sector jobs had been lost in the country during Bush's nearly four-year term.
Although the report, compiled jointly by the respected Annie E. Casey, Ford and Rockefeller foundations, refrained from direct partisan blame, it appeared to back Kerry's argument by insisting that "our society has not taken adequate steps to ensure that these workers can make ends meet and build a future for their families."
A total of 28 million jobs, or almost 25 percent of all available in the country, can no longer keep a family of four above the poverty level, the study found.
Even education beyond high school is no longer a shield from poverty: as many as 3.9 million low-income working families have a member with some post-secondary education, the report said.
To be considered low-income, a family of four had to earn less than 36,784 dollars in 2002, according to government standards. The median income for a family of that size was 62,732 dollars that year.
© Copyright 2004 AFP