New report shows more working mothers in Nebraska make low incomes

NE_Appleseed_Icons_Opportunity-128More than 26,000 low-income families in Nebraska are headed by working mothers according to the new report, “Low-Income Working Mothers and State Policy: Investing for a Better Economic Future.”

The report, which was released today by the Working Poor Families Project and utilizes the latest data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, finds that Nebraska ranks 15th in the nation for the number of female-headed, low-income working families. As of 2012, there were 68,500 low-income working families in the state, with 26,325 headed by working mothers.  That is among the 4.1 million low-income families nationwide that are headed by working mothers.

“With so many of our state’s low-income families led by working mothers, it is essential that they have the opportunity to acquire the skills and support needed to earn a family-supporting wage,” said James Goddard, Nebraska Appleseed Economic Justice Director. “We also have to make sure that hard work pays. Passing bills to raise the minimum wage, institute a paid family leave policy, and ensure all working Nebraskans can get access to health insurance would be significant steps toward stability for the working families of our state.”

The report shows the share of female-headed working families in Nebraska that are considered to have a low income has increased by four percent over the last five years.  In 2012, 64 percent of female-headed households in the state were considered to be low income, up from 60 percent in 2007.

The report also showed that 34 percent of women heading low-income working families in Nebraska have no postsecondary education. Many of the factors keeping working mothers in poverty can be addressed at the state level because state governments have significant authority and opportunity to help low-income working mothers gain the education and work skills they need to provide for their children and strive to become economically secure. Nebraska has been a national leader in creating educational opportunities for low-income families through the Employment First program, however more can be done.

Other reforms states can take according to the report include:

  • Improving access to postsecondary education through need-based financial aid,
  • Making sure working families have affordable child care.

“Too many female-headed working families have no pathway out of poverty,” said Deborah Povich, co-manager of the Working Poor Families Project and one of three authors of the report. “Public policy can and must play a critical role in increasing opportunities so families can achieve economic security. Addressing the needs of low-income working mothers will benefit their children and future generations.”

The report, “Low-Income Working Mothers and State Policy: Investing for a Better Economic Future,” can be found in its entirety at http://www.workingpoorfamilies.org

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