Working poor

08 March 2018

According to Eurostat’s definition, individuals are at risk of in-work poverty when they work for over half of the year and when their equivalised yearly disposable income is below 60% of the national household median income level. During the economic crisis, the number of workers at risk of poverty in the EU has risen. Latest Eurostat figures show that around 10% of European workers are at risk of poverty. 

The Europe 2020 strategy identifies unemployed people as being particularly at risk of poverty. Yet, getting people into work is not always enough to lift them out of poverty, as low pay remains an obstacle for some. The European Commission’s 2017 recommendation on the European Pillar of Social Rights explicitly recognises the need for policies and measures to tackle in-work poverty.

Eurofound’s work

A recent Eurofound study examines the development of in-work poverty in the EU since the onset of the crisis in 2008. It looks at the social ramifications of in-work poverty by describing the well-being and living conditions of the working poor. The study finds that in-work poverty is linked with lower levels of subjective and mental well-being, lower life satisfaction, as well as feelings of social exclusion, not to mention problems with accommodation.

This study assesses what Member States have done to alleviate in-work poverty and follows up on an earlier study which looked at the characteristics of the working poor in Europe, as well as the main policies and social partner views in relation to addressing the issue.

Poor housing is also a concern for the working poor. A study on inadequate housing in Europe aims to increase understanding of the true cost of poor housing and to put forward policy initiatives that could help to address its social and financial consequences. 

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