Thursday, January 30, 2014

CFED Released an Assets & Opportunities Scorecard for Florida

Nearly Half of Florida Households 
Are One Crisis Away from Financial Devastation 

Our score is better but we are not in the clear. Our score moved from last year's 47 to 39, however for the indicators related to overall Health of Florida's residents we are a woeful 49!

"Despite an improving national economy, 48.7% of Florida households are in a 
persistent state of financial insecurity, according to a report released today by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). The report also found that state policies are doing little to improve the financial security of Floridians."

Key Findings:
  • The average college debt for students graduating increased 8% from $27,150 in 2011 to $29,400 in 2012. 
  • As student loan debt increased, so did the student loan default rate. Fifteen percent of borrowers in 2012 defaulted on their student loans within three years of starting repayment, up from 13% in 2011. 
  • The percent of employees participating in employer-provided retirement plans continued to decline from 47% in 2007 to 44% in 2012. 
  • Although the racial wealth gap narrowed slightly between 2010 and 2011, households of color still fall far behind white households. They have approximately one-tenth the median net worth of white households ($12,377 and $110,637, respectively) and are considerably less likely to own a home. 
  • The homeownership rate for households of color is 26 percentage points lower than the rate for white households (46% and 72%, respectively). 
  • Only eight states (Maryland, New York, Maine, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, Minnesota and Rhode Island) have adopted 50% or more of the 67 policies that can support family financial security. Meanwhile, seven states (Idaho, Missouri, South Dakota, Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi and Wyoming) have adopted fewer than one-quarter of the policies.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

War on Poverty, Part I: National Antipoverty Programs Paving the Way for a Win

Guest Blogger: Yesenia Rojas

In 2014 the Half in Ten campaign released the “The War on Poverty: Then and Now” report that entails the progress we've made as a country with our ongoing mission to save millions of citizens from poverty and what we've done to make  those changes powerful and lasting. 
Bottom line: the United States has not failed; the war on poverty is still being fought and battles are being won.
How? Through policy reforms that resulted in safety net programs which aided our success: Medicare, Medicare, Head Start, Pell Grants, nutrition assistance and expansions to Social Security. Without these programs it is expected that our poverty rate would be doubled today.
President Lyndon B. Johnson's State of the Union Address 50 years ago launched this "unconditional" war and the data collected reflects progress and hope for the future.

Currently 46.5 million people are under the federal poverty line. If we were to look at the Census Bureau data from previous years, it has shown that ongoing efforts to improve numbers throughout history have worked. A new study from Columbia University shows that with the help of our safety net programs poverty was reduced from 26% during the time of President Johnson's speech to 12% in 2012.
In fact, incredible change resulted only 10 years following the war's announcement; our country's poverty was at a record low of 11.1%.
Yet, as safety net programs prove helpful and successful, the variable in our fight has definitely been a wavering U.S. economy.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Job Security as a Result of Volunteering: These Are the Facts

Blog Feature:
Yesenia Rojas

An important deciding factor for many job interviews nowadays is probably something most applicants overlooked in the past: volunteering.

Recent studies conducted by the NCoC have proved that civic participation is clearly related to economic stability. The 2011 and 2012 reports show that engagement in nonprofit activities, trust and teamwork are linked directly to financial and social success in our communities.

With U.S. employment rates plummeting in recent years it seems volunteer work may offer a solution to citizens who are looking to secure jobs and become eligible for competitive salaries.

According to the CNCS (Corporation for National and Community Service) “volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers.”

The deciding factor for finding employment was not affected by demographics or work experience in the least. In fact, the rate of employment sky rocketed among people without high school degrees and those residing in rural areas.

Not only do volunteers living in these areas have a 55 percent higher likelihood of getting a job but volunteers without a high school diploma have a 51 percent heightened probability than those without civic experience.

Other facts support the undeniable correlation:

  • The NCoC studies are proving that civic life must integrated in all of society to protect the job market, economic success and a strong nonprofit presence in our society.
  • Community leaders in varying areas must help bridge the gap between businesses and civic involvement. They should support government policies that invest in solidifying “social cohesion” thru volunteering.

Everyone should work together to achieve the obviously reasonable solution to many of the economic fumbles we face—civically strong communities will withstand greater issues and grow with increasing citizen participation.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Affordable Care Taking the Lead in Florida

Blog Feature: Yesenia Rojas
Florida is now a frontrunner with 17,908 residents signed up for the Affordable Care Act as of Oct. 1 (nationally over 364,000 Americans are on board). In November, a total of 110,000 citizens—almost four times as many as in October—are now insured with the help of the federal online service.
Our state’s participation numbers are playing a vital role:
Applications completed in the Sunshine State (150,142), Applications for coverage (281,517), Number of plans selected (17,908). And according to the U.S. Census, 3.8 million uninsured residents under the age of 65 live in Florida, the second-highest rate in the country only to Texas.

With more and more Americans becoming eligible for coverage (1.9 million just recently), we might see a powerful surge in Affordable Care patients well throughout March 2014 according to Michael Hash, director of HHS’s office of health reform.
The federal online exchange is programmed to handle about 800,000 consumers a day and enrollment data in Florida proves this may very well happen in the near future with the help of education and outreach by the Obama administration.
Although improved practicality made it a more user-friendly system, technicians at continue to fix other issues that have intervened in the application process. Officials are quickly working to correct these problems and fix them immediately. Since the site was re-launched in Dec. 1, close to 100% of Affordable Care consumers can now transmit information successfully and accurately.
However, although the Congressional Budget Office estimated that nearly 90 percent of citizens enrolled in the exchange would be eligible for financial assistance, fewer qualified for subsidizes than expected. Only 41% enrolled in the plan, got qualified for aide and also managed to pay monthly premiums.
CMS says that it is too early to determine the subsequent rise in enrollment but things could change before mid-2014. 
If you would like to know more about how you can navigate the marketplace in search of health insurance, contact Catalyst Miami today! Our navigators are ready to help you with you needs. Call us today! 305-576-5001