Healthy Kids and Strong Working Families: Improving Economic Security for North Dakota Families with Children

Jennifer L. Shaffer

Healthy Kids and Strong Working Families: Improving Economic Security for North Dakota Families with Children
Shaffer, Jennifer L.
National Center for Children in Poverty
Persistent URL:
Columbia University. National Center for Children in Poverty, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Publisher Location:
New York
North Dakota is currently experiencing an economic boom that is bringing prosperity to the state and many of its citizens. The prosperity is not shared by all, however. Many workers helping to generate the economic boom do not feel its benefit and nearly one third of North Dakota families struggle to make ends meet. Most of these families work. Fully 85 percent of North Dakota's low-income families have at least one working parent. A good job is the route to economic security for many families. But what qualifies as a "good" job? A good job is one that pays more than the cost of basic expenses in the region; offers paid sick leave, retirement benefits and health insurance at a manageable cost; and, provides job security and opportunities for advancement. The jobs of low-income workers, almost by definition, do not meet these criteria. Concentrated in jobs and industries with low wages, few benefits, little security, and a scarcity of fulltime positions, low-income workers often struggle to afford basic necessities, much less get ahead. For many families in North Dakota and throughout the country, even full-time work does not provide adequate means. Work supports can help close the gap between low wages and the cost of basic necessities. Earned income tax credits, child care subsidies, public health insurance and other work support programs help reduce costs and increase income for working families. Such programs have proven to be effective in lifting people above poverty and improving attachment to work and job security for low-wage earners. Yet, despite the economic and social benefits of increasing income and supporting work, North Dakota's programs for low-income families do not always reinforce advancement in the workforce or provide adequate resources for workers. This brief uses the Family Resource Simulator and Basic Needs Budget Calculator, policy analysis tools developed by the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), to demonstrate the basic costs associated with living and working in North Dakota and illustrate the important role of work supports in helping low-income families make ends meet. The brief also assesses the efficacy of North Dakota's work support policies in helping families achieve economic security, with a focus on how a small adjustment to North Dakota Healthy Steps (State Children's Health Insurance program or SCHIP) eligibility could positively impact the health and finances of working families.
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Suggested Citation:
Jennifer L. Shaffer, , Healthy Kids and Strong Working Families: Improving Economic Security for North Dakota Families with Children, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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