Economy not kind to working poor Atlanta Journal–Constitution (12.29.04)

Despite reports of an improving economy, some charities say growing numbers of people have come to them in recent months asking for help to pay the rent or feed their children.

The Sullivan Center, which takes applications for rental assistance one day a month, got requests from 399 people Tuesday. Over the previous three months, more than 400 people have come in every month to seek help with rent or utilities, said Sister Marie Sullivan. That's double the number of applicants who came in during the same period last year, she said.

The increase is sobering because the agency can afford to help only 75 to 100 families a month, Sullivan said.

"It's a sign of the times, the economy," she said. "Most of the people who are here, it's because they lost their jobs."

But W. says things are getting better...

A November report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that more than 36 million people, including 13 million children, experienced hunger or worried about it last year. Two years ago, the figure was 35 million people.

"The bottom line is that it's harder and harder for the working poor to make ends meet in this country," said Ross Fraser, a spokesman for America's Second Harvest, a national food bank network.

While the economy is improving, it's still not as strong as it was a few years ago, said Enniss of Clayton Family Care.

"I do think we're seeing some job growth," Enniss said. "The unfortunate part of that is, with most of the job growth, the wages aren't that strong. We're seeing people laid off from a $40,000–a–year job and in order to go back to work they're having to take a $20,000– to $25,000–a–year job."

Uh, that doesn't sound like "better" to us, and it's totally consistent with what we've been hearing. Cheap labor is the name of the game boys & girls, cheap labor is the name of the game.


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