Excluded from the Financial Mainstream: How the Economic Recovery is Bypassing Millions of Americans
Most indicators suggest that the American economy is recovering well from the Great Recession. Yet, so many Americans see little or no evidence of economic recovery in their own lives. The 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard helps explain this phenomenon, illustrating that many Americans are struggling on measures relating to their ability to save and get ahead.
The main findings report from the 2015 Scorecard, Excluded from the Financial Mainstream, is available to view or download below. The report, and its accompanying resources, explain how the economic recovery is bypassing millions of American households.
The 2015 Scorecard in Images
Visit our Infographics page to see 20 different visualizations of the main findings of the 2015 Scorecard.
Analysis by Issue Area
The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard evaluates 135 different policy and outcome measures, grouped into five different categories: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education. Click on any of the issue areas below for our in-depth analysis of the measures within each category.
Excluded from the Financial Mainstream
Large percentages of American 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 to make ends meet, according to the 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard.
Low-wage jobs have increased in all but two states, while 36 states plus Washington, DC, saw decreases in average annual pay. Nationally, nearly 56% of consumers have subprime credit scores, meaning they cannot qualify for credit or financing at prime rates and are more likely to use costly alternative financial products. One in five households regularly relies on fringe financial services, such as payday loans, to meet their needs.
A combination of these and other factors have contributed to the nation’s growing wealth and income inequality. Scorecard data show that households in the top quintile currently earn five times as much as those in the bottom quintile ($106,196 compared to $21,159). And households at the top have 55 times as much wealth, including savings and assets, as those at the bottom of the income scale ($277,473 compared to $5,022).
Among the Scorecard’s other key findings:
- Liquid asset poverty rates—the percentage of households with less than three months of savings at the poverty level—are particularly high in states with the greatest levels of income inequality. This trend is most evident in poor states in the South and Southwest and high-cost states on the East and West coasts, all of which have large populations of color. If families can’t save, closing the wealth gap is all but impossible.
- In 33 states and the District of Columbia, the gap in homeownership rates between households of color and white households has widened. The 10 states where the gap is greatest are Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, New Jersey and Kentucky.
- High-cost (or subprime) mortgage loans—one of the main culprits behind the housing boom and bust—are on the rise. The percentage of homebuyers with high-cost mortgages is higher in 42 states than it was in 2010.
The Scorecard also reveals that the vast majority of states are not doing enough to improve the circumstances of struggling residents. Additionally, some states have backpedaled on policies that helped families build long-term financial security following the recession. For instance, homeownership counseling for prospective homebuyers was cut in six states.
For the complete story of how the economic recovery is bypassing millions of Americans, download Excluded from the Financial Mainstream today.