Economy

Mississippi ranks worst among states for residents’ financial security

Low-income residents line up outside of Bethel Free Health Clinic in Biloxi, Mississippi, to see a doctor on March 19, 2013. In a new study, Mississippi ranks last among states in providing economic opportunities for residents.
Low-income residents line up outside of Bethel Free Health Clinic in Biloxi, Mississippi, to see a doctor on March 19, 2013. In a new study, Mississippi ranks last among states in providing economic opportunities for residents. MCT

Mississippi finished dead last in a new study that ranks each state and the District of Columbia by its residents’ financial security and opportunities to build a better future.

Mississippi had the worst resident outcomes as measured by the “2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard,” compiled by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a national financial-advocacy group for low- and moderate-income families.

And only Wyoming finished lower than Mississippi in implementing public policies that help residents improve their financial standing, the study found.

Using 135 outcome and policy measures that gauge the financial well-being of residents and how well state policies enhance their ability to build and sustain assets, the scorecard evaluates each state in five areas: financial assets and income, businesses and jobs, housing and homeownership, health care, and education.

By virtue of its state policies, Mississippi ranked 48th overall and was one of just six states that have adopted fewer than 17 of the 68 public policies that the Corporation for Enterprise Development recommended to help poor and working-class households.

But Mississippi’s nationally worst showing for overall resident outcomes was driven by a multitude of troubling statistics.

The Magnolia State was worst in the nation with a 22.6 percent household poverty rate and 14.5 percent of households with no checking or savings accounts, according to the scorecard.

Mississippi’s nationally worst showing for overall resident outcomes was driven by a multitude of troubling statistics.

Mississippi also trailed all states with 32.8 percent of households using nontraditional banking services such as payday loans, 69 percent of consumers having subprime credit and 5 percent of borrowers being more than 90 days overdue on payments.

While most economists agree the nation has recovered from the Great Recession, “for many families there is little cause for celebration,” Andrea Levere, the organization’s president, said during a telephone briefing Monday. “Financial stability remains elusive for many, as wages remain stagnant and millions are underemployed, resulting in little change in the percentage of households living in poverty.”

In health care outcomes, Mississippi’s near 20 percent uninsured rate was 43rd among all states.

The U.S. uninsured rate is 16.7 percent, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which requires most Americans to have health insurance or face a fine. Mississippi is among 20 states that have not used the act to expand eligibility for Medicaid, the national health insurance program for low-income Americans.

The scorecard uses a variety of public and private data sources to compile the outcome measures, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Mortgage Bankers Association. The policy scorecard data are based on research from policy organizations, academic institutions and research centers with expertise in the subject areas.

National findings from the scorecard show that:

– Homeownership rates fell to 63.1 percent, the eighth consecutive year of decline. This contributes to rising rental costs.

– 14.3 percent of adults said they didn’t see doctors when they needed to last year because of the cost. The rate was 25 percent for Latino adults and 20 percent for African-American adults.

– The underemployment rate is nearly 11 percent, and 25 percent of U.S. jobs are in low-wage occupations.

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