I have just finished reading The Working Poor by David K. Shipler. It’s a rough book to read because of the stories of hardship workers face in jobs which pay too little. I am glad I read it. It reminded me of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickle and Dimed in many ways. It portrays the daily struggle of those living in or on the edge of poverty in America while working a job. I especially enjoyed the epilogue, a catch up of people in the book and their journey since the author’s initial contact.
Reading The Working Poor I was reminded of some small business owners in similar day to day struggles to live. I know of a husband and wife working sixty to eighty hours a week each to run a business from which they collectively make $50,000 a year or less. While they have some responsibly for their situation, much of the revenue of the business is determined by others as is the ability of the business to pass on increased operational costs. While the $50,000 a year does not make them poor under the definition, the $7.50 an hour they earn makes them among the poorest paid in Australia.