CFED Scorecard

Georgia residents struggle to find and sustain economic stability

Tony Pugh
McClathcy News
Jan 25, 2016

Georgia finished nearly dead last in a new study that ranks each state and the District of Columbia by its residents’ financial security and opportunities to build a better future.

Only Mississippi and Alabama had worse resident outcomes as measured by the “2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard,” compiled by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a national financial-advocacy group for low- and moderate-income families.

Using 135 outcome and policy measures that gauge residents’ well-being and how well state policies enhance their ability to build and sustain assets, the scorecard evaluates each state in five areas: financial assets and income, businesses and jobs, housing and homeownership, health care, and education.

While most economists agree the nation has recovered from the Great Recession, “for many families, there is little cause for celebration,” Andrea Levere, president of the organization, said during a telephone briefing Monday. “Financial stability remains elusive for many, as wages remain stagnant and millions are underemployed, resulting in little change in the percentage of households living in poverty.”

By virtue of its state policies, Georgia ranked 25th among all states, however, having adopted 24 of 68 public policies that the Corporation for Enterprise Development recommended to help residents grow and protect their financial assets.

The study found that nearly 56 percent of Georgia households live in “liquid asset poverty,” meaning they’re unable to subsist at the poverty level for three months without income in the event of a financial crisis such as a medical emergency or the loss of employment. The national liquid-asset poverty rate is 43.5 percent.

Additionally, 65 percent of Georgia consumers have subprime credit, compared with 55.6 percent nationally. Subprime credit makes it difficult and more expensive for people to purchase cars, homes and consumer goods on credit.

In health care outcomes, Georgia ranked 43rd in the national study, with a state uninsured rate of 21.2 percent – 47th among all states.

The U.S. uninsured rate is 16.7 percent, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which requires most Americans to have health insurance or face a fine. Georgia is among 20 states that have not used the act to expand eligibility for Medicaid, the national health insurance program for low-income Americans.

As a result, roughly 13 percent of Georgia’s low-income children lack health insurance, compared with 9.8 percent nationally, the study found.

The scorecard uses a variety of public and private data sources to compile its outcome measures, including data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Mortgage Bankers Association. The policy scorecard rankings are based on research from policy organizations, academic institutions and research centers with expertise in the subject areas.

National findings from the scorecard show that:

– Homeownership rates fell to 63.1 percent, the eighth consecutive year of decline. This contributes to rising rental costs.

– 14.3 percent of adults said they didn’t see doctors when they needed to last year because of the cost. The rate was 25 percent for Latino adults and 20 percent for African-American adults.

– The underemployment rate is nearly 11 percent, and 25 percent of U.S. jobs are in low-wage occupations.

Copyright © 2016 CFED — Corporation for Enterprise Development 1200 G Street, NW Suite 400 Washington, DC 20005 202.408.9788