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The Family Bottom Line



Nebraska families are working—and working hard—but is hard work always enough to make ends meet? How much do Nebraska families need to earn to meet basic needs without assistance?

The Family Bottom Line is a follow up to an original Family Bottom Line report published in 2009. The new report highlights changing demographics and statistics since the Great Recession.

The report shows that Nebraskans are working, with 73% of Nebraska children under 6 having all available parents in the workforce. In spite of strong indicators of parental employment, child poverty remains high at 17.9%.

These indicators raise the question: Are Nebraska’s working families able to earn enough to meet all of their children’s basic needs?



In conjunction with the 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. 



Findings from the Family Bottom Line Report indicate working families are struggling: 

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 32,000 workers in Nebraska earning at or below minimum wage. Assuming a 40-hour work week, two earners would earn $30,160 annually. The Family Bottom Line Report shows that a family with two adults, an infant and a preschooler would need to earn anywhere from $39,313.77 to $51,971.26 to meet expenses, depending on geographic location of the family.
  • The breakdown of family expenses illustrates what has long been a criticism with the official poverty measure – that it is based on the assumption that families spend a third of their income on food. Depending on the age of children in the household, a family may be much more likely to spend almost a third of their income on child care. Monthly child care costs for a single parent with an infant and a preschooler range from $959.73 to $1,356.82 depending on geographic location of the family.
  • Depending on family size and composition, 33.9% or about a third of all Nebraska households are earning $35,000 a year or less, a number that falls below the family bottom line for most regions and household compositions.
  • Income eligibility limits for programs frequently create a “cliff effect” for families who are trapped in low-wage work because they can’t afford the loss of benefit that would result from increased wages (by raymon). The adult Medicaid, child care assistance and SNAP programs create significant cliffs for families in every region in Nebraska.

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