CFED Scorecard

Oregon Scorecard: Low-income Residents, Communities Need More Help

Jim Redden
Portland Tribune
Jan 29, 2015

Oregon ranks near the bottom of states on several key measures or household financial security and needs to do more to help residents prepare for the future, according to a report released Thursday.

The "2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard" was compiled by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), a nonprofit organization based in Washington DC that works to expand economic opportunities for low-income families and communities. It ranked Oregon below nearly every other state on such indicators as homeownership rate (45th), high school graduation rate (49th), and underemployment (48th), defined as part-time workers who want full-time jobs and discouraged workers no longer searching for employment.

“Oregon needs to keep investing in hope as communities continue to rebuild after the recession,” says Janet Byrd, Executive Director of Neighborhood Partnerships.

Despite the criticism, Oregon's overall ranking increased from 2014, rising from 25th to 22nd place. Oregon actually ranked in the top 10 states in four policy categories: financial assets and income (8th); businesses and jobs (2nd); housing and homeownership (3rd); and health care (6th). The state also ranked 18th in education, in spite of the low high school graduation rate.

Nationally, the "2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard" found millions of Americans have been left out of the economic recovery with little opportunity to take charge of their financial lives or plan for a more secure future. According to the report, large percentages of these households are experiencing profound levels of exclusion from the financial mainstream as they struggle in low-wage jobs and are forced to rely on fringe, often high-cost financial services just to make ends meet.

Key findings include:

  • Low-wage jobs have increased in all but two states. Thirty-six states and Washington, D.C., saw decreases in average annual pay between 2012 and 2013.
  • Nationally, 56 percent of consumers have subprime credit scores, meaning they cannot qualify for credit or financing at prime rates and are more likely to use costly alternative financial products. One in five households regularly relies on fringe financial services, such as payday loans, to meet their needs.
  • Liquid asset poverty rates — the percentage of households with less than three months of savings at the poverty level — are particularly high in states with the greatest levels of income inequality. This trend is most evident in poor states in the South and Southwest and high-cost states on the East and West coasts, all of which have large populations of color. If families can’t save, closing the wealth gap is all but impossible.
  • In 34 states, the gap in homeownership rates between households of color and white households has widened. The 10 states where the gap is greatest are Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, New Jersey and Kentucky.
  • High-cost (or subprime) mortgage loans — one of the main culprits behind the housing boom and bust — are on the rise. The percentage of homeowners with high-cost mortgages is higher in 42 states than it was in 2010.

“The economic recovery experienced by some segments of our society is barely a blip in the lives of millions of Americans who continue to struggle in low-wage jobs and have little ability to save and build a better future for themselves and their children,” says Andrea Levere, president of CFED. “In far too many cases, these households are living outside the financial mainstream, relegated to using often high-cost financial services that trap them in a cycle of debt and financial insecurity.”

The full report can be found at assetsandopportunity.org/scorecard.

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