Bancography | Branch Planning, Marketing Research, Brand Strategy, Products & Profitabilty

Nearly Half Of America Is On The Brink Of Financial Disaster

Just less than half (43.9%) of U.S. households — 132.1 million people — do not have a basic financial safety net for emergencies or future needs. They lack the savings to cover basic expenses for three months should unemployment, a medical emergency or other crisis arise.

These people on the brink of financial catastrophe includes a majority of the 42.2 million who live below the official income poverty line of $23,050 for a family of four, as well as many who would describe themselves as middle class. One quarter (25.7%) of households earning $55,465-$90,000 annually have less than three months of savings.

These findings come from the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, a massive study of Americans’ financial well-being published by the Corporation for Enterprise Development.

Research revealed that 26% of households are “net worth asset poor,” meaning that the few assets they have — savings, a home, business or car — are overwhelmed by their debts. These asset poor families, whether they lack emergency savings, durable assets or both, are forced to prioritize today’s expenses over tomorrow’s goals. These families have made pragmatic choices, in part, to cope with the recession’s continued impact. However, many also lack even the basic tools to save for a rainy day.

subprime_credit_scoresWith little or no savings to make their household budgets work, families continue to take on debt. The average borrower is carrying $10,736 in credit card debt. Unfortunately, more than half (56.4%) of consumers do not qualify for short-term credit at “prime” rates, leaving them to turn to high-cost payday, auto-title or installment loans to make it through another week. One out of five households who have a mainstream bank account still uses predatory or high cost financial services.

Getty Images | Content Marketing

Savings Account Penetration

no_savings_accountNearly a third (30.8%) of households do not have a savings account. Savings account penetration is particularly low among certain subgroups. Only 52.6% of black and 51.9% of Hispanic households have a savings account, compared to about three-quarters of Asian and white households.

Only about one-third of the lowest income households (those making less than $15,000) have a savings account, compared to almost 90% of households making $75,000 or more a year.

Faced with limited savings, high debt and bad credit, families’ ability to invest in long-term assets — such as a home, business or college education — is largely out of reach. Median net worth declined by over $27,000 from its peak in 2006 to $68,948 in 2010 (the latest year for which data are available).

Housing Woes Weigh Heavy on U.S. Consumers

Homeownership, an important driver of net worth, also continued to decline from its peak of 67.3% of Americans who owned a home in 2006 to 64.6% in 2011.

liquid_asset_poorThe drop in homeownership has been fueled by both a continued high rate of foreclosures and tightening of the mortgage market. By the second quarter of 2012 the foreclosure rate had dropped to 4.27% — a decrease from a 2010 high of 4.6% but still above the pre-housing crash rate of 0.99% in 2006.

The move by financial institutions to stop offering high-cost mortgage loans — another factor contributing to the drop in homeownership rates — has been a mixed blessing for asset poor families. On the up side, they are no longer prey for abusive and unscrupulous lenders. On the down side, they are largely shut out of the mortgage market.

The Underbanked

Approximately 79% of underbanked households use non-bank money orders, while 31% use check cashing services, meaning they spend a significant amount on services for which most Americans pay little to nothing. Underbanked households are also more prone to loss or theft and face challenges in building credit and achieving financial security compared to banked households. Overall, use of alternative financial services has become more prevalent since 2009, with larger proportions of households of different ages, education levels, race/ethnicity and family type all reporting greater use of alternative financial services. 8.2% of U.S. households have no mainstream financial account at all.

Minority Report

net_worth_minorities_whites

The financial insecurity facing households of color is particularly grim. Although the majority (58.3%) of liquid asset poor households are white, nearly two-thirds (62.6%) of households of color fall into that category, making them one job loss or medical emergency away from financial collapse. There is also a chasm between the assets owned by white households and households of color.

White households have 10 times the median net worth as households of color ($110,973 and $10,824, respectively), and are considerably more likely to own a home. The homeownership rate for white households is more than 25 percentage points higher than the rate for households of color (72% and 46.2%, respectively).

Getty Images | Content Marketing

Run Custom Reports for Your State

You can run your own custom reports for individual states at the CFED website by clicking this link.

% of HHs w/Savings Account Total
Revolving
Debt
% of
Consumers
With
Subprime
Credit
% of
Underbanked
Households
% of
Unbanked
Households
United States 69.2% $10,736 56.4% 20.1% 8.2%
Alabama 62.6% $8,879 62.6% 28.8% 10.2%
Alaska 83.8% $10,966 55.6% 20.2% 5.2%
Arizona 71.4% $12,038 60.5% 20.5% 11.6%
Arkansas 45.8% $6,376 63.8% 28.1% 12.3%
California 72.1% $13,825 56.8% 18.0% 7.8%
Colorado 75.4% $11,407 51.8% 16.1% 5.4%
Connecticut 77.1% $15,028 49.0% 15.2% 5.3%
Delaware 68.0% $12,178 57.1% 15.5% 6.7%
District of Columbia 70.2% $15,065 56.7% 22.3% 10.9%
Florida 66.3% $11,916 61.4% 21.1% 7.3%
Georgia 60.9% $10,077 65.2% 26.8% 11.5%
Hawaii 78.6% $13,031 48.2% 20.0% 3.8%
Idaho 76.1% $9,906 53.1% 19.0% 5.7%
Illinois 68.1% $11,505 54.9% 17.7% 7.6%
Indiana 68.6% $8,364 57.9% 19.1% 7.8%
Iowa 74.7% $5,967 47.0% 17.2% 4.4%
Kansas 67.8% $7,166 52.7% 19.7% 7.1%
Kentucky 58.8% $8,347 59.7% 21.5% 9.9%
Louisiana 58.9% $7,414 65.0% 27.2% 11.5%
Maine 79.3% $10,171 51.8% 19.0% 3.7%
Maryland 75.0% $13,068 55.7% 21.2% 5.6%
Massachusetts 79.0% $12,563 47.6% 14.1% 4.9%
Michigan 74.9% $8,988 55.4% 17.3% 7.7%
Minnesota 76.0% $9,978 43.8% 12.6% 4.1%
Mississippi 51.8% $6,847 69.1% 23.6% 15.1%
Missouri 64.7% $8,060 56.4% 20.6% 9.5%
Montana 72.3% $8,120 48.6% 22.0% 4.8%
Nebraska 73.3% $6,632 47.8% 17.8% 3.7%
Nevada 68.5% $10,670 67.9% 31.2% 7.5%
New Hampshire 79.1% $11,748 49.5% 12.5% 1.9%
New Jersey 74.5% $14,252 51.9% 19.4% 6.6%
New Mexico 67.8% $8,055 62.0% 23.6% 11.5%
New York 71.7% $11,791 52.4% 19.4% 9.6%
North Carolina 66.4% $10,697 58.0% 21.7% 9.3%
North Dakota 75.4% $5,865 42.9% 18.0% 5.3%
Ohio 68.1% $9,982 55.4% 19.3% 8.8%
Oklahoma 60.0% $6,495 62.9% 23.2% 10.9%
Oregon 80.0% $10,561 51.2% 14.4% 4.3%
Pennsylvania 68.6% $10,775 50.7% 18.0% 6.1%
Rhode Island 72.0% $13,803 52.7% 17.8% 7.0%
South Carolina 62.9% $9,627 63.7% 20.6% 9.3%
South Dakota 76.4% $6,848 45.8% 22.0% 4.4%
Tennessee 59.3% $9,101 60.2% 18.1% 10.9%
Texas 62.8% $6,668 65.3% 27.2% 12.8%
Utah 83.7% $9,860 50.8% 21.0% 2.8%
Vermont 76.1% $9,625 46.4% 17.4% 3.4%
Virginia 68.3% $11,946 53.0% 16.7% 6.6%
Washington 84.4% $13,087 49.6% 19.4% 4.5%
West Virginia 52.1% $7,578 59.2% 19.2% 9.5%
Wisconsin 80.5% $7,920 50.0% 14.2% 4.5%
Wyoming 74.0% $7,543 52.1% 21.1% 5.8%

Search For More: Facts & Data, , ,

All content © 2014 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

CUNA | Youth Week 2014

Comments

  1. Laura Graf says:

    What is definition of “underbanked”?

  2. Hi Laura,

    This article, “The Comprehensive Guide To The Un- And Underbanked,” is based on a study by the FDIC. It should address most of your questions.

    And here are 15 more facts about the un/derbanked.

Other Sites Linking to This Article:

  1. Feed Those Zombie Brains | The Cooperative Trust

Speak Your Mind

*

Next article recommended for you
emerging_technologies