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Survey ranks state last in U.S. for financial capability
by Wally Northway
Published: May 30,2013
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation) today released the results of America’sState-by-State Financial Capability Survey.
The State-by-State Financial Capability Survey, which surveyed more than 25,000 respondents, was developed in consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, other federal agencies and the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability.
The State-by-State Survey found a significant disparity in financial capability across state lines and demographic groups:
Citizens of California, Massachusetts and New Jersey who were surveyed are the most financially capable. Those states ranked in the top five among all states in at least three of five measures of financial capability.
Mississippi stood out as the least financially capable state, placing in the bottom five in four out of five measures. Arkansas ranked in the bottom five in three out of five measures, and Kentucky ranked in the bottom five in two out of five measures.
Younger Americans, especially those who are 34 and under, are more likely to show signs of financial stress, including taking a loan or hardship withdrawal from their retirement account or making late mortgage payments.
Younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to have unpaid medical bills. Of those surveyed, 31 percent of Americans aged 18-34 reported having unpaid medical bills compared to 17 percent for Americans aged 55 or older.
“This survey reveals that many Americans continue to struggle to make ends meet, plan ahead and make sound financial decisions—and that financial literacy levels remain low, especially among our youngest workers. No matter how you slice and dice it, this rich, new dataset underscores the need for us to continue to explore innovative ways to build financial capability among consumers,” said FINRA Foundation Chairman Richard Ketchum.
The five measures of financial capability used to rank the states measure how well Americans are managing their day-to-day finances and saving for the future. The national averages among survey respondents for these key measures are below.
Fewer than half (41 percent) of Americans surveyed reported spending less than their income.
Over a quarter (26 percent) of Americans reported having unpaid medical bills.
More than half of Americans (56 percent) do not have rainy-day savings to cover three months of unanticipated financial emergencies.
Over a third of Americans (34 percent) reported paying only the minimum credit card payment during the past year.
On a test of five basic financial literacy questions, the national average was 2.88 correct answers.
The state-by-state results break down financial decisions and literacy by gender, age bracket and region, and highlight how a lack of financial capability has disadvantaged many Americans. The State-by-State Financial Capability Survey includes a wealth of data revealing how Americans make ends meet, plan ahead and manage financial products.
The State-by-State Financial Capability Survey collected data on financial behaviors across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The FINRA Foundation will make the extensive and multi-dimensional information in this study available to policymakers and researchers, allowing them to look at individual financial behavior from various angles and utilize the state-specific data to tailor new programs and policies to promote greater financial capability.
The data were collected through an online survey of 25,509 American adults (approximately 500 per state, plus D.C.), over a four-month period, July – October 2012. The sample used in this study was weighted by age, gender, ethnicity and education.
The Mississippi Economic Policy Center (MEPC) and the Foundation for the Mid South have released a new report, noting that the net worth of a typical state household is only about $50,000, compared to the national average of approximately $88,000. Read more at http://mepconline.org/released-today-making-mississippi-competitive-solutions-for-building-assets-in-low-wealth-communities.
The Insight Center has developed a portfolio of initiatives designed to foster the development of more equitable asset building policies, increase the economic security of low-income people, and help make women-and minority-owned businesses more competitive. Read more at http://www.insightcced.org/programs/assets.html
Across the state of Mississippi, families are working hard, but fail to make ends meet. Low-wage work and the absence of assets exacerbate an exceedingly tough environment or working families. Assets,in particular, play a huge role in determining which families avert financial disaster during an emergency and which families move forward through home ownership, entrepreneurship
or college education. Read more at http://mepconline.org/images/admin/pdfs/134_19418_New_Report-Making_Mississippi_Competitive-Solutions_For_Building_Assets_In_Low-Wealth_Communities.pdf
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. Read more at http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers
Poverty is a major problem confronting the South, and particularly Mississippi, where about 1 out of every 5 persons lives in poverty (see Table 1). The percentage in poverty is even higher, if a self-sufficiency standard is used to set the income level below which a household is considered to live in poverty. (For a household of two adults under the age of 65, the 2007 poverty threshold was $13,884, according to the U.S. Census.) The future of the region, and the state, depends upon an effective approach to raising the income levels of those at the bottom of the income distribution. Read more at http://www.mississippi.edu/urc/downloads/solvingpoverty_problem.pdf
The 1:1 Fund promotes educational opportunity for low-income students by raising matched funds for children’s savings incentive programs that encourage saving and build assets. Last week, when I was in Jackson, Mississippi, visiting one of the 1:1 Fund’s local children’s savings partner programs, the power of these initiatives became overwhelmingly evident to me. Read more at http://
It’s no surprise that the typical approach to paying off debt focuses on, well, the debts themselves — their interest rates, what order to pay them in, etc — and often on ways to make extra money or reduce expenses.
But getting out of debt (and staying out of debt) is really about changing behavior. Change the behaviors that got you into debt in the first place, and you’ll have the hardest part licked. That’s where brainstorming your way out of debt comes in. Read more at http://www.thedebtmyth.com/brainstorm-your-way-out-of-debt/
The New Year brings this good news/bad news story: Workers of color will disproportionately benefit from minimum-wage increases in 10 states – because they are disproportionately employed in low-paid jobs.
Workers of color represent about one-quarter of the workforce in the 10 states that saw minimum-wage increases on January 1, but nearly half of the 1 million low-wage workers who are affected by the increases. The higher wages will add nearly $300 million to their paychecks. It will also bolster the economy as workers spend their additional income, creating an estimated 1,500 new jobs. Read more at http://www.policylink.org/site/c.lkIXLbMNJrE/b.8491227/k.E368/Americas_Tomorrow__January_10_2013.htm?section=story2&msource=ESGM20130109#.UPBC9m_AeYE