Last week, CFED released its annual Assets and Opportunity Scorecard. This report is the latest incarnation of CFED’s Development Scorecard, one of the first comprehensive and rigorous efforts to benchmark states for their economic development capacities. The Assets and Opportunity Scorecard takes a sligthly different approach–it focuses less on traditional economic development metrics and instead assesses “Americans’ ability to save and build wealth, fend off poverty, and create a more prosperous future.”
The scorecard assesses state performance and capacity in five key areas:
- Financial Assets and Income
- Businesses and Jobs
- Housing and Homeownership
- Health Care
Much of the report contains sobering news. For me, one big point of worry is the statistic that 43% of American families have little or no savings to tide them over in a time of emergency. This is based on CFED’s concept of “liquid asset poverty,” a measure that tracks household savings that can be easily converted to cash (and thus excludes items like a home, business, or car). CFED also uses another measure for asset poverty, i.e. whether a household has sufficient savings to cover basic expenses in the event of job loss or another measure. 21% of American households face current asset poverty status.
The report also highlights the huge state-by-state differences in the safety net and other support systems. Vermont, the best performing state, has 15% of its families in asset poverty. Meanwhile, in Nevada, 45% of households are defined as facing asset poverty. Overall, the best states in terms of supporting assets and opportunity are Vermont, North Dakota and Minnesota. The worst performing states were Nevada, Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi. The report’s findings tell us, that, even with some better economic news in recent weeks, we have a long way to go to provide opportunties and needed support for many American families.