CFED Assets & Opportunities Scorecard

 By any measure, poverty in the United States is increasing. In 2010, the country saw the poverty rate for individuals rise to 15.1 percent, the highest level in nearly two decades. More than 46 million people now live below the federal poverty line of $22,350 for a family of four. However, the official poverty rate released annually by the Census Bureau highlights just one aspect of household finances, namely the percentage of people with insufficient income to cover their day-to-day expenses. It does not count the number of families who have insufficient resources – money in the bank or assets such as a home or a car – to meet emergencies or longer-term needs. When these longer-term needs are factored in, substantially more people in the United States today are facing a future of limited hope for long-term financial security.

According to the 2012 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, 27 percent of households – nearly double the percentage that are income poor – are living in “asset poverty.” These families do not have the savings or other assets to cover basic expenses (equivalent to what could be purchased with a poverty level income) for three months if a layoff or other emergency leads to loss of income. Since the release of the 2009-2010Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, the number of asset poor families has increased by 21 percent from about one in five families to one in four families. At a time of widening income disparities between the richest and poorest households, these data paint a stark picture of diminishing financial security for millions of families.
For the first time, the Scorecard also includes a measure called “liquid asset poverty,” which excludes assets such as a home, business or car that can’t easily be converted to cash, and consequently provides a more realistic picture of the resources families have to meet emergency needs. According to that measure, 43 percent of households nationwide are “liquid asset poor” with little or no savings to fall back on if emergency strikes.
The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard offers the most comprehensive look available at Americans’ financial security today and their opportunities to create a more prosperous future. The Scorecard explores how well residents are faring in the 50 states and the District of Columbia and assesses state policies that are helping residents build and protect assets across five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education. The 2012 Scorecardassesses states across 101 outcome and policy measures in these five areas to determine the ability of residents to achieve financial security.
By many of those measures, Americans are struggling. It is clear that the recession and its aftermath have left unprecedented numbers of families barely able to make ends meet. The unemployment rate continues to hover between 8 percent and 9 percent. For people of color, the annual unemployment rate in some states is as high as 19 percent, and the rate of underemployed and discouraged workers tops 23 percent. Between the third quarters of 2008 and 2011, the home foreclosure rate increased by almost 50 percent.