Unemployment is the reason many people are poor.

The Urban Institute Research of Record reports that one out of seven Americans was poor in 2009, and that 11 percent of mothers living in poverty were suffering from severe depression. A major characteristic of poor people is unemployment, and the job market now in the U.S. is even worse than than it was in the 1930's.

Lack of Adequate Income

A major characteristic of a poor person is not having enough income to buy food and afford adequate housing. The basics of human survival are water, food, shelter, clothes and warmth. People are considered poor or living in poverty when their income is insufficient to pay for their basic needs to be met or if they need to live in substandard housing conditions or they are homeless.

Marriage and Poverty

According to David J. Fein, PhD, of ABT Associates, poor couples get married just as often as people who have more income, however, their marriages are not as secure. Fein's research for ABT Associates, an organization that researches social and economic policies in the United States, also indicated that first births for poor newlyweds are likely to happen before the marriage compared to upper middle class married couples. Poorer couples have significantly lower levels of education and lower employment rates than married couples with adequate income. Fein also reports that the number of married couples using government assistance programs is in the millions.

Mental Outlook

People living in poverty tend to have a different mental perspective than those who have adequate incomes. A poor person, for example, is more concerned about having enough food to eat as opposed to whether they enjoyed their meal or if it was presented well. A person living in poverty would be more focused on whether articles of clothing were warm enough for a cold winter rather than whether it was a designer piece or in style. Poor people are more concerned about surviving and relationships whereas those with higher incomes may be more interested in work, achievement, or on making financial, social or political connections.

Lack of Opportunity

A typical stereotype of the poor are that they are lazy and that those in the middle class are hard workers, however, the lack of opportunity is an important factor to consider. The people that live In a location with a limited number of good-paying jobs, have far fewer opportunities to apply any education they possess to obtain a good job. Poor people may not have had the opportunities to pursue a college degree which severely limits their chances of obtaining a position with adequate income, especially if they have a family to support.