President Obama recently acknowledged what every sane person knows to be true: The best anti-poverty program is a job. Obama said this at a recent conference on poverty.
But he continues to repeat a falsehood over and over. This is the claim that the poor work just as hard as the rich do. Well, yes, many people in poor households heroically work very hard at low wages to take care of their families. No doubt about that. Yet the average poor family doesn’t work nearly as much as the rich families do. And that’s a key reason why these households are poor.

The most recent Census Bureau data on household incomes document the importance of work. Census sorts the households by income quintile, and we will label those in the highest quintile as “rich,” and those in the lowest quintile as “poor.” The average household in the top 20 percent of income have an average of almost exactly two full-time workers. The average poor family (bottom 20 percent) has just 0.4 workers. This means on average, roughly for every hour worked by those in a poor household, those in a rich household work five hours. The idea that the rich are idle bondholders who play golf or go to the spa every day while the poor toil isn’t accurate.
The finding that six out of 10 poor households have no one working at all is disturbing. Since they have no income from work, is it a surprise they are poor?