News > What Makes Someone Economically Fragile?

What Makes Someone Economically Fragile?

Who Are The Economically Fragile? How Can I Spot Them?

Economically fragile people are uncertain about the continuous availability of life’s basic necessities for themselves and other people for whom they are responsible.  Economically fragile people routinely experience financial insecurity, food insecurity, housing insecurity, and transportation insecurity. Truth is that not all low wage earners are economically fragile.  Just most of them.

You may not find it easy to spot teammates who are economically fragile. It’s because economically-fragile workers try very hard to conceal it to maintain their dignity.

Here’s some tips to help you identify the economically fragile worker:

Economically-fragile workers drive older cars with body damage.  They are the only person in their household who is working.  Their clothes might be ill fitting or not entirely consistent with the season.   They may come to work without a coat despite freezing temperatures.

Many economically-fragile workers have a long commute.  They eat lots of fast food.  They visit the emergency department instead of a medical practice when they or a family member becomes ill.    They may have garnishment orders on their wages.  Economically-fragile workers do not enroll in company benefit plans.

Economically-fragile workers are pushing the limit on PTO and unscheduled absences. They may be late for work enough times to warrant disciplinary action.  They may be unfocused and their job performance may be uneven — good some days and not good on others.  They seem to have very bad luck with one catastrophe following another.  They may come to work exhausted.

Dollar For Dollar. 

Approximately 52% of households on Medicaid include at least one full time worker (defined as working 35 hours or more per week).   Here’s an interesting article from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation on the working poor.

Pay a full time employee $10.00 per hour. She will earn approximately $20,800 in gross wages and she will be eligible for Medicaid benefits.  She will, almost always, be economically fragile.

What about people earning  $15 an hour — are they economically fragile?  Quite possibly.  As income rises, people lose  Medicaid benefits for food, heating, housing, and childcare.   As these benefits are lost, the spending power of this higher wage is greatly reduced and can make someone even more economically fragile.


In our next blog entry, “Meet ALICE”, we provide you with a competitive advantage that comes from providing a comprehensive support system for low wage-economically fragile workers.

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