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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

February 3, 2014 at 10:38 AM

Nearly one-third of state households on the edge

Cfed, the D.C. think tank best known for the Development Report Card for the States, last week released what it calls “a comprehensive look at Americans’ financial security today and their opportunities to create a more prosperous future.” Looking at 133 measures, Washington comes in…not bad.

In “outcome” we rank 16th, and in “policy” 5th, using 2012 data. Even so, nearly one-third of state households “lack adequate savings to cover basic expenses at the federal poverty level for even three months in the event of an emergency such as a job loss or health crisis.” Another one that jumps out: “The percent of employees participating in employer-provided retirement plans continued to decline from 47 percent in 2007 to 44 percent in 2012.” You can read how the state measures in individual categories here.

Overall, the report finds that five years into the recovery, most Americans don’t live in fear of losing their jobs and homes. But many still live on the edge. Many are in “liquid asset poverty,” meaning there’s no slack in the family budget for an emergency. In many states, policy responses have been inadequate.

Vermont wins the best overall outcomes rank while Nevada comes in last. In the Northwest, Alaska is No. 5; Oregon No. 25, and Idaho No. 21. On the policy side, measures enacted to help families boost their financial security and opportunities, Maryland comes in tops. Alaska ranks 48, Oregon 9 and Idaho 45.

You can use this interactive map to pull up a state profile and examine all the measures.

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