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WORKIN' 

"The older you are, the freer you are, as long as you last." -- Studs Terkel at age 95.

With apologies to Mr. Terkel, it looks like his observation may be as nostalgic as his books.

• According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more of us are working as we trudge toward death: "Nationally, nearly one in four people between the ages of 65 and 74 (23.2 percent) were in the labor force (either working or looking for work) in 2006, an increase from 19.6 percent in 2000." Yech. So much for Americans enjoying their increased longevity.

The number was even higher in the Charlotte area, where 24.4 percent of folks ages 65 to 74 were in the labor force in 2006.

• It seems few of us can escape the clutches of "The Man," except [often unwillingly] the poor. Only about half the people below the poverty level are working or looking for work. Only 38.6 percent of people below the poverty level were employed.

• But in Charlotte, even fewer of the poor escape. Which may be, uh, why fewer are poor here than in many comparably sized cities.

About 55.3 percent of people below the poverty level were working or looking for work here. And 43.4 percent of poor folks had jobs.

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