This word is on the rise mostly because politicians and people fearing being politically incorrect use it as a replacement for "those people" or just "people". But it essentially confers the same meaning. It refers to "the other" and any class of people the speaker is referring to except him/herself. Thus it is ironic the term used as an abbreviation for the inclusive and mostly quaint "Kinfolk" word now stands as doublespeak for identifying a group of people with whom the speaker has no desire for affiliation.
"Folks are having a hard time out there making a living."- any politician, pundit or otherwise self-important, and paid person commenting about persons decidedly NOT him or her.