Saturday, August 06, 2016

Florida's Working Poor

Even after working 40 or more hours a week, thousands of Florida parents would need to earn nearly double the state's current hourly minimum wage in order to break even, according to policy analyses conducted by researchers at the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

"For all but the smallest Florida households, working full time will not be enough to make ends meet or to provide families with a sure path out of poverty," said NCCP Director Renée Wilson-Simmons, DrPH, who is also assistant professor of Health Policy and Management at the Mailman School. "At Florida's current minimum wage of $8.05, some 200,000 parents working full time live in poverty, and still more struggle to pay for such basics as child care, health care, and housing. And, perversely, in many households, taking on more hours can actually cost more money as important benefits decline."

Single parents of more than one child who are working at the current minimum wage cannot access federal health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), leaving them without affordable health insurance if they lack employer-provided coverage. Without expanded Medicaid coverage, more than 100,000 Florida working parents confront a coverage gap: They earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to be eligible for health insurance subsidies. Florida is second only to Texas among states with the highest number of people falling into the coverage gap. For many families with child care needs and without access to employer-provided health care, the state minimum wage is too low to act as an adequate incentive for a second parent to work more than part time. Adding more working hours can easily run up more costs in child care, transportation, and other work expenses--and decrease federal work supports like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (i.e., food stamps) and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

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