Sunday, February 12, 2012

Poverty isn't going away

Across Canada, a job is not a ticket out of poverty, or a safeguard against it. The number of Torontonians working hard and hardly earning was growing even before the global financial crisis. The number of people working but unable to make ends meet is growing. The Metcalf Foundation study shows that from 2000 to 2005, the number of working people unable to make ends meet grew by 42 per cent in the Toronto area.

"Across the Toronto Region, many people are working in jobs where they remain poor. The people serving you at a food counter are often struggling to put food on their own table," said the report's co-author, John Stapleton.

Now, Low-paying jobs are growing faster than well-paying ones; more people are identifying as self-employed, which often translates into lower wages. Immigrants make up a little more than half of all the working-age population in the Toronto area – but almost three-quarters of the region’s working poor. Then there is what's called precarious employment – part-time, contract-to-contract or temporary work. The new normal is a job that’s anything but steady. In the Toronto area as much as 45 per cent of the working population could be in non-permanent jobs. Unpredictable wages, and hours that often aren’t enough to make ends meet. A lack of benefits means any unexpected medical expense can be financially crippling. The toll isn’t only financial: Studies done in the Toronto and Hamilton area found unstable employment is bad for your health.

In Mexico the National Council of Politics and Social Development Evaluation (Coneval) report shows that approximately 52 million people in Mexico, representing 46.2 percent of the population, are currently living in poverty. When compared to figures from 2008, this marks an increase of at least 3.2 million people. Households, especially in urban areas, also saw a decline in income.

The increasing number of people living in poverty is mostly the result of rising food prices and the increasing costs for basic expenses such as education, access to health services, residential quality, basic household services, and social security, especially coverage for senior citizens.

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