WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — A December economics report finds that nearly half of US families live below 250 percent of the federal poverty level, and more than half (54 percent) of working-age families with children under eighteen earn less than $60,000 each year.

The Hamilton Project, an economic policy initiative first started at the Brooking Institute in 2006, released the report to focus on the American lower-middle class and their unique struggle to remain above the federal poverty line.

The report said its purpose is to provide facts on “struggling lower-middle-class families focusing on two key challenges: food insecurity, and the low return to work for struggling lower-middle-class families who lose tax and transfer benefits as their earnings increase.”

The paper defines the lower-middle class as those with annual income between 100 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or generally between $15,000 and $60,000 depending on family size.

Among the findings, more than half of America’s working-age families who have children under the age of 18 have yearly incomes of $60,000 or below – approximately 20.1 million families. Approximately 40 percent of families earn $40,000 or less each year.

Approximately 15 percent — 5.6 million working-age families — earn between $1 and $20,000 in a year.

The report also finds that 48 percent of families between 100 and 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level had at least one parent who had attended college.

Nearly one-third of the lower-middle class – not those in poverty – relies on at least one government transfer program annually.

The study concluded that those struggling in the lower-middle class face many of the same challenges as American families living in poverty. Food insecurity and a reliance on government programs for income support are listed as the most striking concerns.