Stocks are up, unemployment is down, and the housing market has stabilized, but according to CFED’s 2015 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, millions of Americans are seeing little evidence of post-Great Recession economic recovery. The scorecard is an annual, data-based assessment of the financial security and economic circumstances of American households. CFED uses data from multiple sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Mortgage Bankers Association, to grade and rank all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 67 outcome measures and 69 policy measures related to household finance, employment, housing, health care, and education. Data for the 2015 scorecard were collected in late 2014 and reference outcomes from 2012, 2013, or 2014.
Although it acknowledges a few bright spots, such as gains in college degree attainment and some increases in state minimum wages, the latest scorecard shows that many key measures have stagnated or declined in recent years. For example, average household income in the U.S. has been stuck at $49,808 for three years in a row and the share of jobs that are in low-wage occupations has risen nationwide, from 21 percent in 2012 to 25 percent in 2013. The national homeownership rate fell to a 20-year low of 63.5 percent in 2013, and substantial gaps in homeownership rates between whites and people of color persist. Four of the ten states with the biggest gaps—Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin—lie wholly or partially in the Ninth Federal Reserve District. The scorecard also shows that nearly half (44 percent) of households in the U.S. lack a basic financial safety net, which CFED defines as having enough savings to cover three months’ worth of expenses.
The 2015 scorecard’s findings are available at www.assetsandopportunity.org/scorecard, where users can view an interactive map that displays detailed state-by-state outcome measures. The site also offers a summary report of the 2015 scorecard results, titled Excluded from the Financial Mainstream: How the Economic Recovery Is Bypassing Millions of Americans, and a wealth of other resources and tools, including an online liquid asset poverty calculator, state data snapshots, and a library of downloadable infographics.
CFED, also known as the Corporation for Enterprise Development, is a national nonprofit organization that promotes asset building and economic opportunity for low- and moderate-income people.