Nebraskans work hard. A study, though, suggests that no matter how hard they work, some struggle to make ends meet.
Nebraska Appleseed has released its Nebraska Opportunity Scorecard measuring economic security, mobility and opportunity.
Kate Bolz, associate director of Nebraska Appleseed’s Low-Income Economic Opportunity Program, says though the state unemployment rate is low, not all the jobs pay well.
“Nebraskans have a great work ethic, but unfortunately one in four jobs in our state pays low wages,” Bolz says. “And so we want to offer both some information about those circumstances and some ideas for ways we can make improvements for our state.”
An obstacle to moving up the economic ladder is that one in four of the working poor lacks a high school diploma. Bolz says the lack of a high school education limits the jobs someone can obtain in the new global economy which heavily values education.
The report says there are not a lot of avenues for adults in Nebraska to earn their GED and, even when there is, it is difficult for someone holding down a fulltime job to find time to study.
The report defines the working poor as those earning below 200% of the federal poverty level. Under that definition, a family of four earning $44,000 or less would be among the working poor.
Bolz says the report suggests other states help the working poor take greater advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
The Nebraska Opportunity Scorecard based its findings on those from the Working Poor Families Project analysis of the American Community Survey. It also used data from the Census as well as other state sources.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]