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Low-income Working Families: The Racial/Ethnic Divide


Last month the  Working Poor Families Project released a report sharing data on low-income working families by race/ethnicity. Data shows that families composed of racial or ethnic minorities in the U.S. are more than twice as likely to be living in poverty or low-income than their white non-Hispanic counterparts. Nationally, 47% of working families of color fall in to these low-income groups whereas only 23% of white non-Hispanic working families do.

The report shares the following key findings on the national level:

  • Of the 10.6 million low-income working families in the U.S., 58% are families of color, despite only making up 40% of all working families.
  • The economic gap between working families of color and white non-Hispanic families is 25%.
  • More than half, 14 million, of the 24 million children growing up in low-income working families are of color.
  • More then half of Hispanic low-income working families have a parent without a high school education.

These disparities are even worse in Nebraska, particularly among working families who are Black/African American or Hispanic.

The report offers several policy solutions, many of which Nebraska is already working towards. These recommendations are:

  • Increase the minimum wage.
  • Provide tax benefits through Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Provide guaranteed paid sick leave
  • Enforce equal pay provisions to reduce economic disparities between racial/ethnic groups, as well as the gender wage gap.
  • Provide access to affordable child care.
  • Support other programs that help low-income families move toward self-sufficiency, including transportation, housing, and food and nutrition assistance.
  • Expand access to retirement savings plans.
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