Oklahoma ranks 33rd for the financial stability of its residents
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
2/01/12 at 3:16 AM
More than one in four Oklahoma residents have almost no savings or other assets to weather a financial crisis, according to findings released Tuesday by the national nonprofit Corporation for Enterprise Development.
The 2012 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard ranks Oklahoma 33rd overall for the financial stability of its residents.
The scorecard ranks states on how their residents fare in terms of achieving financial security across 52 measures in five issue areas.
In Oklahoma today, 26.9 percent of households are "asset poor," meaning they have little or no financial cushion to rely on if unemployment or another emergency leads to a loss of income, according to the report.
"Growing numbers of Americans have almost no savings or other assets to fall back on if they lose their jobs or face a medical crisis," said Andrea Levere, president of Corporation for Enterprise Development, in a written comment. "Without those savings, few will be able to invest in a more economically secure future, including buying a home, saving for their children's college educations or building a retirement nest egg."
The scorecard grades states in five areas: financial assets and income, businesses and jobs, housing and homeownership, health care, and education.
Oklahoma earned a "D" in the financial assets and income category, and in health care. The state earned its highest grade, a "B," in housing and homeownership.
The report gives the state poor rankings in several categories: 39th in income poverty rate, 40th in unbanked households and 44th in consumers with subprime credit - or a credit score below 700.
The average credit card debt in the state is $6,312, compared to $10,852 for the United States.
The report also lists the median net worth of Oklahoma households at $43,325. Net worth equals the sum of assets attributable to any individual age 15 years and older in a household less any liabilities.
The report shows that housing is affordable and home ownership is attainable in Oklahoma, which ranked 14th overall in homeownership and housing affordability.
The state also is entrepreneurial, with people starting small businesses at a higher rate than the national average and creating jobs, said Kate Richey, a policy analyst with the Oklahoma Policy Institute.
Micro enterprise also thrives, but at the same time there are areas where the state fares poorly and doesn't have the support it needs to support that private enterprise.
"We're not educating our work force to fill those jobs," Richey said. "We're not keeping our work force healthy, so it's an interesting backdrop. Imagine what we could do and how those businesses would take off if we were to improve on some of those other measures."
Oklahoma ranked 41st overall in health care. It was 46th in the rate of its residents being insured and 33rd in low-income children having insurance. The state ranked 34th in overall education.
"We need to support asset-building in the state of Oklahoma," Richey said. "We need to support wealth-building whether that's for somebody in poverty, someone in middle income. ... It's about supporting long-term financial stability and wealth creation, and that's something that the state can do in a variety of ways."
The scorecard highlights several policy solutions that could help Oklahoma increase opportunity and promote financial well-being for residents.
One way to promote asset building among low- to middle-income people is to fund an individual development account program where the dollars saved by individuals are matched by a private foundation or public dollars, through grant money or the state or federal government. Individuals, in turn, might use that money to start a business, buy a home or go to college, Richey said.
This gives families and individuals who don't inherit wealth or don't have a job where their earned income is high enough to build assets a little extra boost for building wealth, which creates stability for that household and the whole state, she said.
State legislation will be introduced this year that addresses the topic of individual development accounts.
Original Print Headline: Quarter of households in state are 'asset poor'
Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466