What does the economic downturn and emerging recovery mean to Nebraskans? Specifically, what does it mean to our friends and neighbors, the folks we sit next to at church or PTA meetings at the high school track meet?
Over the past few years, weâ€™ve heard multiple answers to those questions. We hear that times are getting better and that times are getting worse. We hear that the economy has been boosted by consumer spending, but we also hear that weâ€™re experiencing a â€œjobless recovery.â€ While there are many ways to look at and try to understand the economic downturn and its impact in our state, there are two core indicators that I think are important: the numbers and the people.
First, the numbers tell us that while Nebraska hasnâ€™t had the dramatic unemployment rates and job losses seen in other parts of the country, families are feeling the impact. According to U.S. Census Bureau data shared with us by our national partner the Working Poor Families Project. A greater percentage of working families in Nebraska are low income, up from 27.5% in 2006 to 29% in 2008.
Second, we know from individual Nebraskans that the economic downturn is real. The Econolives project, an initiative of the Nebraska Humanities Council and KZUM radio, has interviewed parents, small business owners, workers, and other experts about the economic downturn in Nebraska. The impacts, ranging from job losses to business closures, are real. Click here to hear stories from Nebraskans.
The next question to ask, is, of course: Where do we go from here? Nebraska Appleseedâ€™s Economic Opportunity Campaign has been working to promote values based policies to increase access to job training, adult education, work supports, and health care to respond to the needs of low-income families in our state. To hear an interview of Nebraska Appleseed staff for the Econolives Project, click here!