Research & Policy
Policy Matters Ohio

Ohio ranks low in financial security of its residents

February 04, 2015

Ohio ranks low in financial security of its residents

February 04, 2015

Scorecard data underscore the critical need for policies that create a more inclusive economy in Ohio.

Contact: Kristin Lawton, 202.207.0137

Kalitha Williams, 614.221.4505

Scorecard key findings

Low-wage jobs, limited access to financial mainstream, trap many Ohioans in financial insecurity

Washington, D.C. — A new report released  by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) ranks Ohio 35th worst among all states in the nation for overall financial security of residents, highlighting the ongoing financial problems faced by the state’s working poor families. CFED’s 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard finds that 27.5 percent of jobs in the state are in low-wage occupations and 20 percent of households have limited access to bank accounts, or are “underbanked.”

“Far too many Ohioans are asset poor,” said David Rothstein, director of resource development and public affairs at Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland, an Assets & Opportunity Network lead organization. “It’s clear from our grades in financial health that we need to develop better policies that help families save and achieve assets.”

“We see hard-working families every day who are still struggling in this economy to provide food and shelter for their families and still have money left for saving at the end of the month,” said Jeffrey Diver, executive director of Supports to Encourage Low-income Families (SELF) of Butler County, Ohio. “We need higher wage jobs, more funding for microenterprises programs that promote small business ownership and opportunities for families to save for assets that can move them out of poverty permanently.”

CFED’s 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard offers the most comprehensive look available at American’s ability to save and build wealth, fend off poverty and create a more prosperous future. The Scorecard evaluates how residents are faring across 67 outcome measures in five different issue areas—Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education. Ohio scored particularly high in Health Care, receiving an “A,” due in part to a relatively low rate of uninsured households (12.9 percent). But Ohio ranked far worse in several other areas, receiving a “D” in Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, and Education. The state’s low overall ranking in Businesses & Jobs (38th) was driven by low rates of business ownership and business creation and a high rate of workers employed in low-wage jobs. Ranking 37th in Education, Ohio found itself among the worst states in this area, significantly due to low rankings on two-year and four-year degree attainment (39th and 40th, respectively); high average college graduate debt ($29,090) and a high rate of student loan defaults (16.7 percent). The state received a “C” in Financial Assets & Income, with a ranking of 32nd in its rate of income poverty.

The Scorecard also evaluates 68 different policy measures to determine how well states are addressing the challenges facing residents. Ohio has made good strides toward adopting beneficial policies designed to create economic opportunities its residents, reflected in its rankings among the top ten states in three issue areas: Financial Assets & Income (8th), Businesses & Jobs (8th), and Health Care (4th). The state also ranked highly in Housing & Homeownership, ranking 13th overall. Ohio’s largest opportunities for improvement are in Education, with the state ranking 44th in this area.

The Scorecard data underscore the critical need for policies that create a more inclusive economy in Ohio. These include adopting a fully-refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit to boost the incomes of low-wage earners, more programs to spur microenterprise and business creation, better promotion of special savings accounts to help residents save for homeownership and stronger regulations on payday loans, including auto-title lending. Mandatory financial education in schools would also help Ohio children learn how to save, budget and plan for a more financially secure future.

“Ohio took a step in the right direction in 2013 by enacting a state earned income tax credit," said Kalitha Williams, policy liaison for asset building at Policy Matters Ohio. "Even with the recent expansion to the credit, however, the Ohio EITC is one of the weakest in the nation and could be significantly improved by making it refundable and removing other restrictions.”

Nationally, the Scorecard data finds 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. 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. Among the key findings:

  •   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,” said 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.”

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CFED empowers low- and moderate-income households to build and preserve assets by advancing policies and programs that help them achieve the American Dream, including buying a home, pursuing higher education, starting a business and saving for the future.

To improve policies and programs that promote financial security and opportunity, CFED is the backbone organization for a national Assets & Opportunity Network, which is comprised of more than 1,700 advocates, service providers, researchers, financial institutions and others representing all 50 states and DC.

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