February 04, 2015
February 04, 2015
“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.
“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:
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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