Voices for Children in Nebraska released the Family Bottom Line Report today, exploring whether working families are earning enough to meet all their children’s basic needs. The report shows, among other things, that minimum wage earners are not making enough to meet the family bottom line.

Voices for Children in Nebraska released the Family Bottom Line Report today, exploring whether working families are earning enough to meet all their children’s basic needs. The report shows, among other things, that minimum wage earners are not making enough to meet the family bottom line.  

 In conjunction with the report, Voices for Children has developed an online interactive tool on the family budget that customizes average expenses by Nebraska county and family size. Explore this tool online at www.voicesforchildren.com/FamilyBottomLine

 The Family Bottom Line Report 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.  View the report online: http://voicesforchildren.com/2014/02/the-family-bottom-line/

 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?

 “A family working full-time should be able to meet basic needs without assistance.  Nebraska is a state that values family and work and we need to ensure our policies reflect those values,” said Aubrey Mancuso, policy coordinator for economic stability and health at Voices for Children in Nebraska.  “When we look at the data, we see that not all families are able to make ends meet without any assistance.”

 The Family Bottom Line Report uses data from the Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard (FESS). The FESS measures how much income a family of a certain composition in a specific geographic area needs to meet basic needs without public or private assistance.

 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. The adult Medicaid, child care assistance and SNAP programs create significant cliffs for families in every region in Nebraska.

 Given the findings of the Family Bottom Line Report, Voices for Children is making the following policy recommendations to address the needs of children:

1.      Increase the minimum wage.

2.      Address the cliff effect in public benefits programs.

3.      Expand tax credits for working families.

 Founded in 1987, Voices for Children in Nebraska has been the outspoken, independent voice for Nebraska’s vulnerable children for over 25 years.  Voices for Children in Nebraska works cooperatively with community groups and individuals to tell the whole story of Nebraska’s children through research, analysis, and advocacy.

For more information, call Voices for Children in Nebraska at (402) 597-3100, email voices@voicesforchildren.com or visit http://voicesforchildren.com.