CFED Scorecard

Report: About half of Arizona households face perpetual money problems

Russ Wiles
Arizona Republic
Jan 26, 2016

Nearly half of Arizona households face chronic financial struggles despite a declining jobless rate and overall progress for the economy, according to a new report.

Some 45.7 percent of statewide households are stuck in a new normal of financial insecurity, unable to build enough savings to last even three months in a pinch despite general improvement in the job market, said the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a group that supports anti-poverty measures. Nationally, 44 percent of households lack three months of savings.

The research, reflected in CFED’s 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard at, also found that state policies aren't doing enough to improve the financial security of Arizonans, especially African-American and Latino families. One indication: Businesses owned by whites in Arizona are valued six times higher than businesses owned by African-Americans and almost five times higher than those owned by Latinos.

This year’s report assesses all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 61 measures spanning five areas: financial assets/income, businesses/jobs, housing/homeownership, health care and education. It also ranks the states on 69 policies that the CFED says promote financial security.

Vermont ranks at the top of the country overall, while Mississippi is last. Arizona’s 42nd-place ranking represents a slight improvement from 43rd last year.

Arizona performed worst in health care with an F grade. Arizona has the second-highest percentage of uninsured low-income children (13.7 percent) and is near the bottom for a high overall uninsured rate (16 percent).

Arizona received a D in financial assets/income, in businesses/jobs and in education, hurt by relatively high percentages of unbanked households (12.8 percent) and underemployed workers (13.6 percent) and a low high-school graduation rate (75.7 percent).

The state got a C in housing/homeownership, helped by a low foreclosure rate of 0.8 percent. Nationally, homeownership fell for an eighth straight year to 63.1 percent of households. This trend has contributed to crowding and rising rental rates, according to CFED, which said the Arizona homeownership rate is 61.1 percent.

On state policies, Arizona ranked slightly better than average in 23rd place, having adopted 24 of the 69 policies supported by CFED. The state's relatively strong minimum-wage laws helped.

Among other key findings nationally:

• Some 14.3 percent of U.S. adults said there was a time in the past year when they needed to see a doctor but could not because of cost, with members of minority groups more inclined to skip a doctor's visit.

• High-school graduation rates and college-degree attainment both rose slightly from the prior year, but Blacks and Latinos lag in these measures, too.

• While U.S. unemployment has fallen to 5 percent, the underemployment rate — which measures part-time workers and those who stopped looking for work out of frustration — is more than twice as high at 10.8 percent. One in four U.S. jobs is a low-wage occupation, according to CFED.

• Only 17.1 percent of women own businesses, compared to 21.4 percent of men, and female-owned businesses are worth much less — about $239,500 on average, compared to $726,100 for those owned by men.

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