Omaha, located in Douglas County on the western bank of the Missouri River, is the largest city in Nebraska, with a population of about 358,000, almost double that of Lincoln, the state's next largest city, and about one-quarter of the entire population of Nebraska. Omaha has the most ethnically diverse citizen population in the state, with a relatively large African American community (12 percent).
Unemployment is very low in Omaha, estimated at about 2.7 percent. However, the neighborhoods in which many welfare recipients live, like many central cities, have much higher-than-average unemployment rates. Omaha also has a larger percentage of families living in poverty, as well as a larger percentage of female-headed households than many communities in the state.
Service and retail jobs are most common in Omaha, with nearly three-fifths of area jobs in these sectors. Telemarketing is a major industry in Omaha and a major employer for people leaving welfare assistance for work. The telemarketing firms generally pay higher than minimum wage, but these jobs are temporary and usually do not offer benefits such as health insurance, sick leave, and retirement plans.
Omaha serves the highest number of AFDC/TANF families in the state, with over two-fifths of the state's caseload. In all, in April 1999, there were about 5,100 families on cash assistance in the county, with about 3,500 required to participate in employment activities.