Financial Self-Sufficiency
Working Poor


Working Poor

What does this measure?

The number of employed individuals whose incomes fall below the poverty line. Poverty thresholds vary by family composition and year. In 2017, the threshold for a four-person family with two children was $24,858.

Why is this important?

People who are working, but earning at or below the poverty line face numerous obstacles that may make it more difficult for them to improve their status. Like others in poverty, they may find it difficult to meet basic needs for food or shelter, as well as facing challenges in paying for services they may need to stay employed, such as transportation or child care.

How is our county performing?

In 2013-17, 3% of people employed in Berks County had incomes below the poverty line. This percentage was similar to Pennsylvania, but lower than the nation's 4%. Within the county, 7% of workers in the Central region could be considered poor in 2013-17, compared to 2% in the Northeast, West and the South as well as 1% in the Southeast. In the City of Reading, 9% of employees were working poor, unchanged since 2008-12.

Among surrounding counties, the percentage of working poor was similar to Berks in Chester, Lancaster, Lebanon and Schuylkill counties. The percentage was lower in Montgomery (2%) and higher in Lehigh (4%).

Notes about the data

For additional detail as to how the Berks County regions are defined and which boroughs and townships are included in each, see the About Us page.

Figures are in constant 2017 dollars. The multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined 5 years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. However, because the information came from a survey, the samples responding to the survey were not always large enough to produce reliable results, especially in small geographic areas. CGR has noted on data tables the estimates with relatively large margins of error. Estimates with 3 asterisks have the largest margins, plus or minus 50% or more of the estimate. Two asterisks mean plus or minus 35%-50%, and one asterisk means plus or minus 20%-35%. For all estimates, the confidence level is 90%, meaning there is 90% probability the true value (if the whole population were surveyed) would be within the margin of error (or confidence interval). The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census. Data for this indicator are released annually in December.

There may be additional research available on this topic. Click on Reports and Resources to learn more.

Working Poor
2008-122013-17
Pennsylvania3%3%
Berks County3%3%
Berks County Regions
Central7%7%
Northeast2%*2%*
South2%2%
Southeast2%*1%*
West2%*2%
Reading city9%9%
Berks County Peers
Chester County2%3%
Lancaster County3%3%
Lebanon County3%3%
Lehigh County3%4%
Montgomery County2%2%
Schuylkill County3%3%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%.




Number of Working Poor
2008-122013-17
Pennsylvania319,132339,680
Berks County10,93911,021
Berks County Regions
Central6,2846,501
Northeast1,161*1,213*
South1,6921,615
Southeast677*606*
West1,125*1,089
Reading city5,4225,808
Berks County Peers
Chester County8,10210,270
Lancaster County12,19613,703
Lebanon County2,8753,314
Lehigh County7,95110,041
Montgomery County11,44812,958
Schuylkill County3,2133,069

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%.




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