Income poverty in Germany has reached its highest level for twenty years. This statistic is often seen as proof of the existence and growth of a 'decoupled underclass'. In other scenarios large sections of society appear to be facing collapse into poverty. If the duration of individual phases of poverty and the different dimensions of life in which need can occur are included in the analysis persistent poverty does appear to be on the increase. An increase in vulnerability, that is, swinging between 'middle class' and 'poor' is not evident. Those mainly affected by persistent poverty are still workers, particularly working class families with a background in migration or with several children. But to interpret poverty in Germany as the problem of a culturally destitute underclass or to dramatize it as the whole of society facing collapse is unrealistic.