Parents working full time should be able to meet all of their children’s basic needs without assistance.
We recently unveiled the Family Bottom Line report showing data on what Nebraska families need to meet basic needs based on county of residence, family size, and the ages of children. The report shows that in every region of Nebraska, a family with one or two working adults and children would not be able to meet all of their basic expenses working full-time on $7.25/hour.
In fact, the report shows that the wage needed to support a family without assistance range from a minimum of $8.70/per adult per hour for a two-parent family in rural Nebraska to $22.06 per hour for a single parent with two young children in metropolitan Nebraska. None of these families would be able to meet their basic needs without assistance working full time on minimum wage.
Since 2000, median income in the state has fallen by 28%. The cost of goods and services have risen by 33% in that same time frame — widening the gap between what families are earning and what they need to meet basic needs.
We often hear that the solution to low wages is for parents to work more, but research shows that that simply isn’t good for children. Nebraska already ranks the second highest in the nation for the percentage of workers holding multiple jobs. In general, secure parental employment has a positive impact on children, but when parents work too many hours, children can be negatively impacted. One study found an association between higher rates of delinquency and aggression in pre-adolescent boys whose fathers worked 55 hours per week or more. Long work hours can also create a “spillover” effect on children and on family life in the form of high stress, poor coping, bad moods, and insufficient time and energy for people who are personally important.
In conjunction with our Family Bottom Line Report, we have developed an online interactive tool on the family budget that customizes average expenses by Nebraska county and family size. Explore this tool online and learn more about what it takes for families to make ends meet.