Recession May Be Past, But Underemployment and Income Inequality Still Define Landscape in Connecticut
STATE RANKS 23RD OVERALL IN FINANCIAL SECURITY OF RESIDENTS; HOUSEHOLDS OF COLOR FACE HUGE UPHILL CLIMB
- Homeownership rates remain at historic lows, falling to 63.1% for the eighth consecutive year of decline and contributing to crowding and rising costs in the rental market.
- Fully 14.3% of adults say there was a time in the past year that they needed to see a doctor but could not because of cost. The statistics are worse for individuals of color with one in four Latino adults and one in five African-American adults saying money concerns prevented them from seeing a doctor.
- Although both high school graduation rates (82.3%) and four-year college degree attainment (30.1%) increased from 2013 to 2014, racial disparities remain severe. Less than 20% of AfricanAmerican adults and fewer than 15% of Latino adults hold four-year degrees.
- While the national unemployment rate has dropped to 5%, the underemployment rate is twice as high, at 10.8%. What's more, one-in-four jobs is in a low-wage occupation.
- Building up even a small amount of savings is a challenge for almost half the country. Some 44% of households are "liquid asset poor," meaning they have less than three months of savings to live at the poverty level if they suffer an income loss.
- Business ownership among both men and women (21.4% and 17.1% of the labor force, respectively) declined from 2007 to 2012, even as average business value for both groups increased. Yet female-owned businesses still are worth only a third the value of the average male-owned business-$239,486 to $726,141, respectively.
The Connecticut Asset Building Collaborative´s Peer Learning Network second workshop hosted its second workshop last Thursday. We had a very good, lively debate, with many good comments, suggestions and ideas. Julia Brown gave a truly excellent presentation that really opened up the discussion, with plenty of things to talk about and revisit.
As promised, here you have a link to her presentation, as well as many of the studies and projects that were referenced during the workshop:
- Here is a link to her Powerpoint presentation.
- A brief on general principles on behavioral economics.
- Here is more information on the Household Finance Initiative.
- You can find more about Julia´s work and research on the Innovations for Poverty Action website.
- Two books that were referenced during the discussion: "Hand to Mouth. Living in Bootstrap America" by Linda Tirado and "Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much" by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldae Shafir.
- The Family Independence Initiative, a non-profit that was referenced in the discussion that uses peer groups to promote financial empowerment.
- Two articles on check cashing stores: "The High Cost, for the Poor, of Using a Bank" (New Yorker) and "The Real Reason the Poor Go Without Bank Accounts" (CityLab)
On January 29th join the Connecticut Asset Building Collaborative in New Haven for the second event in our peer learning series:
Join us on Thursday January 29rd, from 9 am to 12.00 pm, at the United Way of Greater New Haven for an open discussion on best practices on program work.
We will hear from Julia Brown, from Innovations for Poverty Action and Yale´s Household Finance Initiative on how behavioral economics can inform and improve asset building programs, and learn how front line staff can apply these lessons to become more effective. We will cover:
We will discuss these issues, and many more, in an open , freewheeling discussion with economists and program managers, all expert on this field. They will give an open, comprehensive look at best practices, good ideas and the (occasional) missteps running an asset building program.
Seating is limited, and filling up rapidly - please RSVP here as soon as possible if you want to attend.
About Julia Brown:
Julia Brown is Initiative Manager at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)'s US Household Finance Initiative. She works to oversee the initiative and provide strategic direction as well as project-specific guidance on design, implementation, partnership development, and fundraising. Prior to joining IPA, her work focused on evaluating business training and microinsurance services for low-income Latino immigrants in San Francisco and New York City. She has also worked on the design and analysis of multiple randomized evaluations, in areas ranging from education to sanitation. She holds a B.A. in Economics and Women's and Gender Studies from Williams College, and a Master of International Affairs with a concentration in Economic and Political Development from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.
About Innovations for Poverty Action:
Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to discovering and promoting effective solutions to global poverty problems. In close partnership with decisionmakers -- the policymakers, practitioners, investors, and donors working with the poor around the world -- we design and evaluate potential solutions to poverty problems using randomized evaluations, the most rigorous evaluation method available. We also mobilize and support these decisionmakers to use these solutions to build better programs and policies at scale.
About the Household Finance Initiative:
Established in 2009, the US Household Finance Initiative (USHFI) leads IPA's US research. Led by researchers Jonathan Zinman (Dartmouth College) and Dean Karlan (Yale University), the initiative uses insights from behavioral economics to develop, rigorously evaluate, and scale cost-effective financial products and product innovations that help low- to moderate-income households lead healthier financial lives.
The Connecticut Asset Building Collaborative hosted our first session of our Peer Learning Network. The tittle of the session was "Lessons Learned: VITA and Financial Education Best Practices"
Our presenters, Lucille Sclafani (CAHS´ VITA Coordinator, center), Laura O´Keefe ( Family Financial Stability Coordinator, Village for Children and Families, right) and Andrew Geisert (Economic Empowerment Program Director at FSW, left) each focused on different areas. Lucille focused on effective strategies to promote asset building on VITA sites, with a focus on targeted programs and effective communications strategies. Laura covered how to manage volunteers successfully, with a focus on engagement and retention, and Andrew covered how to use data effectively, informing strategies and improving outcomes.
You can find the materials for each of their presentations on this link, as well as other resources that were mentioned and reviewed during the session. The presenter´s expertise on this field is wide ranging, having run complex, multi-agency coalitions with hundred of volunteers for years, so the discussion covered a lot of ground. The event also enabled the participants to establish new connections, bringing new ideas and partners for VITA and asset building, and new and potentially better services for the community.
Thanks to all of you that made it to the event - we hope this was the first of many. Hope to see you all in our next session!