Report: Nearly half of Idaho households locked in 'perpetual financial insecurity'
Idaho Asset Building Network Press Release
Idaho State Journal
Jan 25, 2016
WASHINGTON — Although Idaho employers are doing well, many Idahoans are still stuck in low-wage jobs, according to a report released today by Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED).
According to the report, 45.5% of Idaho’s households are locked into a “new normal” of perpetual financial insecurity, unable to build the savings needed to last even three months in the event of an emergency. The research, reflected in CFED’s 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, also found that state policies are doing little to improve the financial security of Idahoans.
Overall, Idaho’s performance on CFED’s outcome measures worsened, plunging from 12th in the nation in 2015 to 21st this year. The state received its lowest marks in Education, ranking 37th and receiving a “D,” due in part to having the nation’s lowest percentage of three- and four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education programs in the nation (30.3%). Further, Idaho ranks 41st and 42nd, respectively, when it comes to the percentage of residents holding two- and four-year college degrees.
On the positive side, Idaho ranks second in the Housing & Homeownership issue area, thanks in part to a high homeownership rate (68.0%, compared to 63.1% nationally). Idaho receives a “B” in the Businesses & Jobs category, driven primarily by the state’s higher-than-average small business ownership rate (1.58%, ranked 9th) and business creation rate (ranked 3rd), with 14.1 businesses opened per 1,000 people. Idaho receives a “C” in the areas of Financial Assets & Income and Health Care.
"We are pleased that Idaho ranks so well when it comes to business and jobs, however we still have much work to do when it comes to raising incomes so that our workers are paid a living wage. Idaho continues to lag behind the rest of the nation when it comes to income from work and this compounds the issue of financial security when families are just struggling to pay basic expenses," said Jessica Sotelo, Executive Director of Partners for Prosperity.
Published annually, the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard offers the most comprehensive look available at Americans’ ability to save and build wealth, stay out of poverty and create a more prosperous future. This year’s Scorecard assesses all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 61 outcome measures spanning five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education. It also ranks the states on 69 policies that promote financial security. When it comes to outcomes, Vermont ranks at the top of the country overall, while Mississippi ranks last.
The Scorecard also evaluates 69 different policy measures to determine how well states are addressing the challenges facing their residents. Idaho has implemented only 19 of the 69 policies assessed, underscoring the link between inadequate policies and ongoing challenges confronting the state’s low- and moderate-income families. Idaho ranked in the lower half of states in three out of the five policy issue areas assessed by the Scorecard, including Financial Assets & Income (40th), Businesses & Jobs (27th) and Education (32nd). Housing & Homeownership and Health Care policies, both ranked 20th, were the only relative bright spots, but fewer than half (6 of 13) of the Housing & Homeownership policies assessed and only a quarter (1 of 4) of the Health Care policies assessed were adopted.
Across the nation, the Scorecard found scant evidence that federal and state governments were willing to embrace policies that would open new doors to greater financial security for those struggling the most in the American economy.
Among the key findings from this year’s national Scorecard:
* Homeownership rates remain at historic lows, falling to 63.1% for the eighth consecutive year of decline and contributing to crowding and rising costs in the rental market.