In order to raise awareness and understanding of the struggles facing those living in and trying to climb out of poverty, January has been declared Poverty in America Awareness Month.
In the midst of economic uneasiness, welfare recipients are struggling to make the transition to work, and low-wage earners working full time still struggle to make ends meet. Poverty levels haven’t been as high as they are now since 1993 — 15 percent of Americans live below the poverty line.
Looking back through the POV archives, Waging a Living (2006) stands out as a timely film that puts a face on the lives of the “working poor” and raised awareness of the problems plaguing low-wage earners. Shot over a three-year period in the Northeast and California, this observational documentary captures the dreams, frustrations and accomplishments of a diverse group of people who live paycheck to paycheck. By presenting a look at the barriers that these workers must overcome to lift their families out of poverty, Waging a Living provides a glimpse at the elusive reality of the American Dream.
The POV site for the film features audio interviews and roundtable discussions about low-wage workers in the United States, video clips from the film and with the director, as well as a lesson plan educators can use in classrooms to teach students about the differences between living wage and minimum wage.
Revisit the film to learn about ways you can help those living in poverty and continue to increase awareness of poverty and respect for the poor in your own community.