Safety Net Sunset

This story is a follow-up to last month’s Omaha Jobs column, which you can find here.

Last month, The Reader wrote about the challenges that Omaha’s social safety net faces, particularly as it pertains to housing and food insecurity. Omaha-area nonprofit leaders addressing these challenges talked candidly about the benefits and drawbacks associated with the influx of funding for pandemic-related relief.

But the challenge extends beyond just the nonprofits that serve the poor. Eligibility requi

Omaha’s Social Safety Net Faces Gaps as Recession Looms

On Dec. 6, 2022, Heartland Family Service announced it was laying off 30 employees. The cuts were attributed to a loss of nearly $3 million in philanthropic funding over the upcoming year. At the time, HFS President John Jeanetta told KETV that he was worried about cutting housing programs when costs were rising and putting a roof over people’s heads was already difficult.

Exactly two weeks later, on Dec. 20, the City of Omaha informed residents of the Legacy Crossing apartments of a decision t

Nebraska’s Behavioral Health Workforce

COVID-19 placed a strain on Nebraska’s behavioral health system. In a 2021 poll by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 51% of metro-area Nebraskans and 40% of rural Nebraskans reported feeling the pandemic’s effect on their mental health. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 2.5% increase in unmet behavioral health needs in a matter of months as the pandemic took hold.

The crisis could not have hit at a worse time for Nebraska’s behavioral health workforce, whic

A Simple Immigration Fix

It’s no secret that Nebraska is dealing with a tight labor market. While “help wanted” signs line storefronts, Nebraska’s unemployment rate remains relatively low (2.2% in September, tied for the fourth-lowest in the nation). The Reader has covered the state’s labor shortage extensively over the last few months — along with the solutions being put forward. Until now, those solutions have centered around policy at the state and local level, but there are also federal policies that inhibit expansi

Nebraska's Next Governor

Nearly eight years ago, in his inaugural address, Gov. Pete Ricketts pointed to the challenges Nebraska faces in creating jobs.

“There’s a barrier to creating jobs here in the state. And it’s Nebraska’s high taxes. We must cut taxes,” Ricketts said.

In April 2022, Ricketts signed into law a $900 million tax cut that lowers the top individual and corporate income tax rates, gives property owners a refundable tax credit and phases out the state’s tax on Social Security income.

During Ricketts’

Omaha's Best Coffee Shops

If you work at The Reader, it’s a prerequisite to drink coffee. Not only do you need it for fuel, you need it for nourishment.

And we’re not talking about the burnt, over-roasted crap that Starbucks, Scooter’s, and other fast-food chains peddle under the moniker of “coffee.” It’s the smooth, strong-yet-subtle kind that hits the spot.Whether you take it black, with cream and sugar, enjoy a drip, love a pour-over, lattes, cortados, macchiatos, americanos, cappuccinos…we love coffee.

You learn a

Omaha's Only Protected Bike Lane to be Removed, Bike Organization Cuts Ties with Transit Planning Group

Omaha’s first and only protected bike lane will be removed. At its Sept. 21 meeting the Metro Smart Cities advisory board decided not to permanently extend the Market-to-Midtown Bikeway, which began as a pilot project in April 2021, Metro Smart Cities partner Bike Walk Nebraska said in a press release.

Bike Walk Nebraska also announced it would cut ties with Metro Smart Cities, an organization tasked with piloting innovative transit ideas and co-chaired by Mayor Jean Stothert. Bike Walk Nebrask

Omaha Jobs Goes Back to the Future

In 2016, Nebraska commissioned a D.C.-based firm to provide a roadmap for the state’s economic development. The report, called “Nebraska’s Next Economy,” consisted of recommendations meant to solve Nebraska’s economic challenges. It identified four interrelated goals to strive for, with a set of policy recommendations for how to achieve them: high-wage jobs, technology-intensive investment, innovation and high-quality communities.

It’s been six years since the report was released. We may find i

Upskilled: How the Pandemic is Reshaping Omaha’s Workforce

Omaha’s economy appears to be doing well. As of July 2022, the unemployment rate for the metro area sits at 2.1%. Job growth has remained steady since the economy started recovering from the pandemic-induced economic downturn, and the number of Omahans in the labor force appears, slowly but steadily, to be returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Chris Decker, an economist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, says a major factor in how Omaha’s economy has recovered is the decision by workers to ups

What To Do If You're Denied Public Benefits

This is the final story in a series, published in The Reader and on, that spotlights the experiences of low-income, working families in Omaha. Leah Cates, who has written the “Omaha Jobs” columns since July 2021, is headed to graduate school, and Arjav Rawal is set to take the reins. But before she leaves, Leah is working on a deep dive into Nebraska’s handling of public benefits for low-income families, which will round out the series. Keep an eye out for her story in July 2022. (

Filibuster looms large over Nebraska redistricting | NewsRadio 1110 KFAB

(Omaha, NE) -- After three days of public hearings across the state, Nebraska lawmakers will finally begin debating how to redraw the state's congressional and legislative lines.

Nebraska is home to the only officially nonpartisan legislature in America. Ultimately, though, the committee voted along party lines to advance a proposed map from committee chair Lou Ann Linehan that would split Douglas County between the first and second congressional districts.

Hundreds of Democrats showed up in O

Redistricting hearings continue in Lincoln PROPOSED MAPS | NewsRadio 1110 KFAB

(Lincoln, NE) — The nation's only nonpartisan legislature faces its most partisan task yet as Nebraska lawmakers consider how to redraw congressional and legislative lines.

Today, the legislature's redistricting committee held the second of three hearings at the state capitol. Testimony ranged from sitting senators to stay-at-home moms, with a diversity of opinions presented to the legislature's redistricting committee. Most sitting senators testified in favor of keeping their existing district

Nebraska lawmakers gearing up for redistricting session | NewsRadio 1110 KFAB

(Lincoln, NE) -- Nebraska lawmakers went back to work yesterday for a special session tackling redistricting.

The officially nonpartisan legislature is tasked with redrawing congressional and legislative lines every 10 years. But this time around, some senators worry the effort is too partisan.

"Ten years ago, it was somewhat partisan, with the congressional boundary change in Bellevue. But in 2001 and earlier redistricting efforts, it wasn't nearly so partisan at it seems to be this year," sa

INTERVIEW: McCollister says Omahans are ready to renew Republican Party | NewsRadio 1110 KFAB

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity. A portion of this conversation has been redacted.

Arjav Rawal: You've been very critical of former President Trump, and this letter is another step in that direction. What was the breaking point for you -- why is now the moment to explore a third-party alternative?

John McCollister: My initial dissatisfaction with Donald Trump was [his response to a 2017 neo-Nazi rally in] Charlottesville, but lately, it's the January 6th insurrection on the