“The State of Working Arkansas 2011” is a comprehensive look at worker demographics, earnings and unemployment data during the recent recession.
“This shows what many low-income and minority working families have felt daily for the past few years,” said Rich Huddleston, AACF Executive Director. “While we’re better off as a whole than many other states, our low-income and minority workers in Arkansas have seen stagnant or falling wages, greater expenses and fewer opportunities to advance—or even find a job—without a college degree.”
Findings of the report show that:
- Despite an unemployment rate below or matching the national rate for the past few years, the demand for public benefits such as unemployment, food and child care assistance has skyrocketed.
- The number of families living under the federal poverty level in Arkansas has been higher than the national average for years, and sharply increased during the recession.
- The top growing job sector, professional and business services, is not matched by growth in the number of college graduates that the state produces.
- The average age of the Arkansas worker continues to increase, while young people are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than workers over 25.
- Wages were stagnant or falling during the recession, with women and minorities unable to make up the gap in earnings with other groups.
- The number of male workers settling for part-time work has doubled, mostly during the recession.
- Enacting a refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Improving access to subsidized childcare.
- Expanding both access and outreach for SNAP benefits.
- Continuing to cut the sales tax on groceries.
- Maintaining funding for the Childcare and Development Block Grant, which supports working Arkansas families with childcare programs.
- Protecting SNAP benefits for low-income families.
- Streamlining Medicaid procedures, rather than cutting services to beneficiaries and providers.
Click here to read the complete Poverty Taskforce report.