(click on news/podcast tab above to hear interview with James Goddard)
The percentage of Nebraskans living in poverty was not sharply reduced in 2015 versus the previous year, and poverty among children and minority groups remain alarmingly high according to new state-level data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS).
According to the ACS, 12.6 percent of Nebraskans had incomes below the Federal Poverty Level in 2015. This is a slight reduction from 2014, when 12.9 percent of Nebraskans lived in poverty.
Nebraska Appleseed Economic Justice Director James Goddard said despite Nebraska having one of the nation’s highest workforce participation rates, too many Nebraskans are experiencing low wages, poor job quality, and a lack of opportunity.
“This data is a much-needed reminder that even though conditions have improved for some Nebraskans, poverty is still a glaring problem in our state,” Goddard said. “In Nebraska, we must ensure public policies are creating pathways for hard-working people to get out of poverty and get ahead. Our leaders must focus on creating opportunity for workers by improving access to health care and work-friendly policies like living wages and paid family leave.”
One of the most alarming statistics from the ACS was Nebraska’s child poverty rate. In our state, 16.8 percent of children under the age of 18 – over 77,000 Nebraska children – live in poverty.
The data on poverty among different ethnic groups also shows significant problems with poverty in Nebraska:
31.6 percent of Native Americans in Nebraska are in poverty.
28.6 percent of Nebraska African-Americans live in poverty.
25.7 percent of Latino/Hispanic Nebraskans live in poverty.
Goddard said this data reveals a lack of opportunity for too many working Nebraska families despite an improving national economic outlook and an increase in the state’s median family income.
“Our leaders must close the health coverage gap for working families and improve access to successful poverty-fighting programs like food assistance and child care subsidies,” Goddard said. “This will open doors of opportunity to more families and create a pathway out of poverty so Nebraska becomes a state where everyone can succeed.”