Date of this Version
Nebraska has historically had a low unemployment rate but the state’s per capita income has also been below the national average. How are rural Nebraskans making a living? How many households have individuals with multiple jobs? Why do individuals hold multiple jobs? How important is agriculture to rural Nebraskans’ families, communities and the state?
This report details 2,482 responses to the 2006 Nebraska Rural Poll, the eleventh annual effort to understand rural Nebraskans’ perceptions. Respondents were asked a series of questions about their jobs and their perceptions about the importance of agriculture in Nebraska. For all questions, comparisons are made among different respondent subgroups, that is, comparisons by age, occupation, region, etc. Based on these analyses, some key findings emerged:
• Rural Nebraska households have an average of 1.3 wage earners. One quarter (25%) of the households have no wage earners, 24 percent have one wage earner and 48 percent have two wage earners. Of the households with at least one wage earner, the average number of wage earners is 1.7.
• Rural Nebraska households with at least one wage earner have an average of two jobs that contribute to the household income. Twenty-seven percent of the households have one job contributing to the household income and 55 percent have two jobs that make up their income.
• Persons living in or near smaller communities have a higher average number of jobs per household than do persons living in or near larger communities. Persons living in or near communities with populations less than 5,000 have an approximate average of 2.07 jobs per household, compared to an approximate average of 1.92 jobs per household for persons living in or near communities with more than 5,000 people.
• Fourteen percent of rural Nebraska households have an individual with more than one job.
• Persons living in or near smaller communities are more likely than persons living in or near larger communities to have an individual with more than one job in their household.
• Sixty percent of the households with an individual having more than one job say that more than one job is necessary to pay for living essentials. Thirty-seven percent say that individual has more than one job to make additional income for non-essential items.
• Of the households with a person having more than one job, farmers and ranchers are the occupation group most likely to say that the individual has more than one job to secure employment benefits. Twenty-two percent of farmers and ranchers give this reason for having a multiple job holder in their household.
• Twenty-seven percent of the rural Nebraska households with at least one wage earner have someone that is actively seeking a better paying job. Only nine percent of the households have someone that is seeking a job with more hours.
• Nineteen percent of rural Nebraskans currently own a farm or ranch, 11 percent own a business and five percent own both a farm or ranch as well as another type of business.
• Persons living in the Southeast region are more likely than persons living in other regions of the state to own a farm or ranch. Twenty-five percent of the Southeast residents own a farm or ranch, compared to 16 percent of persons living in either the Panhandle or South Central regions.
• Most rural Nebraskans view agriculture as important to the state, their community and their family. The proportions believing agriculture is important to the various areas are as follows: the state’s economy (90%), the state’s quality of life (88%), their community’s economy (88%), their community’s quality of life (85%), their family’s quality of life (72%) and their family’s personal finances (57%).