NewsGet InvolvedDonateAbout Us

Does Working Work?


Issues in this session


Poverty, poverty awareness, minimum wage, low-wage jobs, working poor, employment benefits, labor unions, living wage, Earned Income Tax Credits,


The Message


Too many jobs created today are low-wage service sector jobs, many are part-time and or temporary and few have benefits.  As a result, low-income Americans are working more hours, but finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. The working poor may remain in poverty no matter how hard they work.


The Process


In this session, participants will begin by engaging with sets of illustrations that reveal something about the employment and family situations of three different families.

After a large group activity identifying the worker’s situation, small groups work with case studies of one of the families to discover why they are having such a hard time paying the bills despite being employed.  What policies already exist that can help these families? Are those programs being accessed? The small group then identifies problems and discusses short and long term solutions that are reported back to the larger group.

This session is a great introduction to some federal programs that work for low-income families, and a chance to dream about what other policies might improve the situations of hard working low-income families. Participants learn again the difference between short term charitable programs that assist low-income workers and the policy changes that are possible that will enable workers to lift themselves out of poverty.


Try Me!



How many observations about the work situation of Tanya Johnson can you make from this illustration? In this Just Neighbors session, there are two such illustrations and a case study for each of the three families.

Does Working Work?