Scotts Bluff County, in Nebraska's western panhandle, includes nine small, rural communities bordering Colorado and Wyoming. Approximately 36,000 people reside in the county, with most of the residents in the towns of Scottsbluff and Gering.
Sugar beet factories and other agricultural companies employ most of the local residents in Scotts Bluff County. Outside the farming community, the work is mostly in industry, the service sector, and tourism. The reported unemployment rate of 4.6 percent is nearly double that of the rest of the state, but lower than most the rural sites. Underemployment is also common, and starting wages are generally lower than in other parts of the state. Exacerbating these factors, welfare staff in Scottsbluff report a strong bias among local employers against hiring welfare recipients.
Over one-fifth of the children in Scottsbluff live in poverty and about 550 families qualify for financial assistance, about one-quarter of whom are two-parent families. From May through July, during the sugar beet harvest, there is an influx of Hispanic migrant workers to the area, which adds about 100 families to the caseload.