According to a report compiled by Washington, D.C.-based organization Prosperity Now, almost 50 percent of California households have so little cash saved they couldn’t live at the poverty level for more than two months if they lost a job or suffered another important loss of income.
That’s the grim assessment of the 2017 Prosperity Now Scorecard, which also shows that 46 percent of households in the Golden State didn’t set aside any savings for emergencies during 2016, which clearly represents a higher percentage than the national rate of 43.7 percent. Naturally, it makes things much more difficult the fact that 21.1 percent of California jobs are in low-wage occupations.
The scorecard determined that 21.4 percent of Californians have experienced income volatility over the past year, which is a situation that most often results from irregular job schedules. Of course, this is a concerning situation which outcome could be quite severe.
The report reveals this issue is even worse for households of color, since they are nearly as twice as likely to live below the poverty line as white households –the report shows 18.2 percent compared to almost 10 percent- and they are much less likely to own a home. In fact, the report shows they’re also much less likely to own any kind of asset that could help boost their long-term financial stability.
Statistics reveal that less than half of California’s household of color (almost 44 percent) own homes, compared to 62.5 percent of white, non-Hispanic households. Furthermore, 60.7 percent of Latino households and almost 57 percent of black households have virtually no savings and are considered “liquid asset poor,” compared to almost 30 percent of white households fitting that category.
Prosperity Now President Andrea Levere said in a statement that beyond providing a cushion to get families through emergencies, increased savings and wealth are extremely beneficial since they allow families to invest in their future and gain ground for the next generations. Additionally, Levere told that it´s clear that many people are stuck in an “economic limbo.”
Regarding this concerning issue, assistant professor of clinical marketing at the USC Marshall School of Business, Lars Perner, explained that California’s high housing costs have put many households on a highly unstable financial ground. He explained that the cost of housing in the state is extremely high, which represents a big part of the of the problem since people are paying a disproportionate amount of their income toward housing.
The Prosperity Now report reveals that almost 20 million of American households (16.9 percent of the total) have zero or negative net worth, which only means they owe more than they own, which always represents the cornerstone of an economic meltdown in every family.
The scorecard suggests some policies that could help get struggling households back on track. One of the most important is providing an income boost through some policies like the federal and state earned income tax credit.
Additionally, the scorecard points out as an effective policy the importance of saving, explaining that Oregon is now leading the way as a model of state support by authorizing $7.5 million in state funding for the Individual Development Account program last year.
Another policy the scorecard points out is creating increased access to home ownership. On this matter, the scorecard explains that it refers to first-time homebuyer support at the federal and state levels, including programs that increase access to cheaper mortgage products.
Additionally, the scorecard assures that increasing retirement security also represents one of the most effective policies to help get struggling households on track. It assures that retirement security is quite elusive for the 55 million workers without access to any employer-sponsored retirement plan, and that automatic-enrollment Individual Retirement Accounts decrease the likelihoods that income volatility will derail plans to invest in future.
More than a third of California households have no savings. They live in land of plenty and are financially illiterate. It’s a shame.
— Scott (@ScottBlivtrusci) 26 de julio de 2017
The scorecard says this policy also help shore up their savings, and that 41 percent of those workers without access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan are black, Latino, or Asian.
According to a recent report by the state’s Employment Development Department, California’s economic engine quieted last month as employers reduced their payrolls by 1,400, which represents the second month this year that this state lost jobs.
Regarding this report, co-founder of Los Angeles-based consulting firm Beacon Economics Chris Thornberg said that the numbers are problematic and that this is a wakeup call for everybody.