The Omaha EITC Coalition (Earned Income Tax Credit) released a new report today on the impact of long-term unemployment and the role it plays in the economic shirt that they and economists call the “knowledge economy”. Laurel Sariscsany compiled the report “The Poor We Will Always Have: A look at the new knowledge based economy and its effect on low to middle income individuals”. The “knowledge economy” is using knowledge to produce economic benefits. She used data collected by the Omaha EITC Coalition in this report that shows the impact unemployment has on individuals and communities.
Sariscsany stated that long term unemployment is a key factor in this knowledge economy. It is defined as being out of work 6 months or longer. 45-percent of those unemployed are long term unemployed and the majority of that 45-percent have been out of work a year.
Sariscsany says they “see that 23-percent of the long-term unemployed own their own home. Of our over-all customer base, 28-percent own their own home. This may seem like a small gap, only 5-percent but the loss of assets it represents is very significant. We suspect as time goes on this 23-percent will continue to decrease as individuals are not able to pay their mortgage or property tax and lose their own home. Individuals who are lucky enough to not lose their home are unlikely able to save much more for pay for house repairs. This may lead to them using investments such as early withdraws from retirement plans, pensions and stocks.”
This report does focus on the term “knowledge economy” and Sariscsany says more people will need an education beyond high school to compete with jobs in the future. The report shows that 26.5- percent of Nebraska residents do have an associate’s degree. However, by 2018, two-thirds of all jobs will require education beyond the high school level.
The Coalition feels policy changes are necessary to support individuals affected by this new economy and they suggest extending unemployment benefits for those experiencing long-term unemployment. Support the creation of and funding for a variety of Bridge Programs in Nebraska. They also would like to see expansion of asset limits in public benefits programs to allow for more educational opportunities.
The Nebraska Department of Labor released the December unemployment rate Tuesday. December’s unemployment rate came in at 4.1-percent, unchanged from November.