Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Report Ranks Florida among Worst in Nation for High Number of Workers in Low-wage Jobs

For Immediate Release                                                           Contact: Kristin Lawton, 202.207.0137
January 29, 2015

New Report Ranks Florida among Worst in Nation for High Number of Workers in Low-wage Jobs 

Prompt Response from Florida Lawmakers Needed to Improve Financial Security of Residents 

Washington, D.C. — Despite an improving national employment picture, Florida ranks among the worst in the nation when it comes to providing residents with stable, decent-paying jobs. According to a report released today by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), 32.2% of jobs in Florida are in occupations where the median annual pay is below the poverty line of $23,283 for a family of four.

CFED’s 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard ranks Florida 43rd for its percentage of low-wage jobs and 41st for residents’ average annual pay ($44,179). Additionally, the state ranks 40th for the number of underemployed workers, defined as part-time workers looking for full-time jobs and discouraged workers who have stopped searching for employment.

The Scorecard offers the most comprehensive look available at American’s ability to save and build wealth, fend off poverty and create a more prosperous future. The Scorecard provides rankings for the 50 states and District of Columbia on both the ability of residents to achieve financial security and policies designed to help them get there. Florida ranks in the bottom half of the country with an outcome ranking of 39 and an overall policy ranking of 28.

The bleak employment and wage data underscore the need for policies that will help low-wage workers improve their financial security.

“Passing legislation that would increase the minimum wage is imperative to raise the incomes of our lowest paid workers, but Florida also needs to consider a range of measures that will help these workers keep more of the money they earn,” says Alice Vickers, Executive Director for the Florida Alliance for Consumer Protection and a board member of the Florida Prosperity Partnership, an Assets & Opportunity Network lead organization. “Those efforts should include expanding free tax preparation services offered by Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, which help low-income workers access benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, while avoiding costly fees charged by commercial and unregulated tax preparers.”

The 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard evaluates how residents are faring across 67 outcome measures in five different issue areas—Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education. Florida receives a “D” when it comes to Financial Assets & Income, driven in part by the low percentage of households with savings accounts (40th), the high percentage of consumers with subprime credit (41st), and the high percentage of borrowers 90 days or more past due on debt payments (45th). The Sunshine State also receives a “D” in both Housing & Homeownership and Businesses & Jobs, an “F” in Health Care and a “C” in Education.

The Scorecard also evaluates 68 different policy measures to determine how well states are addressing the challenges facings residents. Florida ranks 28 th overall in policy ranks, underscoring the link between inadequate policies and ongoing challenges confronting the state’s low- and moderate-income families. Florida ranked in the bottom half of states in two out of the five policy categories assessed by the Scorecard, including Education (ranked 34th ) and Health Care (ranked 39 th). The state did slightly better in two other issue areas—Financial Assets & Income (ranked 28th) and Businesses & Jobs (ranked 23rd). Housing & Homeownership policies, where Florida ranked 3rd, were the only relative bright spot.

Nationally, the Scorecard data finds millions of Americans have been left out of the economic recovery with little opportunity to take charge of their financial lives or plan for a more secure future. Large percentages of these households are experiencing profound levels of exclusion from the financial mainstream as they struggle in low-wage jobs and are forced to rely on fringe, often high-cost financial services just to make ends meet. Among the key findings:

 Low-wage jobs have increased in all but two states. Thirty-six states and Washington, D.C., saw decreases in average annual pay between 2012 and 2013.

 Nationally, 56% of consumers have subprime credit scores, meaning they cannot qualify for credit or financing at prime rates and are more likely to use costly alternative financial products. One in five households regularly relies on fringe financial services, such as payday loans, to meet their needs.

 Liquid asset poverty rates – the percentage of households with less than three months of savings at the poverty level – are particularly high in states with the greatest levels of income inequality. This trend is most evident in poor states in the South and Southwest and high-cost states on the East and West coasts, all of which have large populations of color. If families can’t save, closing the wealth gap is all but impossible.

 In 34 states, the gap in homeownership rates between households of color and white households has widened. The 10 states where the gap is greatest are Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, New Jersey and Kentucky.

 High-cost (or subprime) mortgage loans—one of the main culprits behind the housing boom and bust—are on the rise. The percentage of homeowners with high-cost mortgages is higher in 42 states than it was in 2010.

“The economic recovery experienced by some segments of our society is barely a blip in the lives of millions of Americans who continue to struggle in low-wage jobs and have little ability to save and build a better future for themselves and their children,” said Andrea Levere, president of CFED. “In far too many cases, these households are living outside the financial mainstream, relegated to using often high-cost financial services that trap them in a cycle of debt and financial insecurity.”

To read an analysis of key findings from the 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, click here. To access the complete Scorecard, visit Visit our media resources page for interactive data tools, including our asset poverty calculator, downloadable infographics, customizable charts and maps, and other data visualizations.

Interested in connecting with the local Assets & Opportunities Lead Organization? Connect with us today!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Assets & Opportunity Scorecard to Arm Advocates with Data to Promote Financial Security

In order to advance policies that empower families to be part of the financial mainstream,
advocates need data that communicate the extent of financial insecurity facing their
constituents. To help meet that need, CFED will release its 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard on January 29. This year’s Scorecard assesses 135 different outcome and policy measures to examine how all 50 states and the District of Columbia are doing when it comes to the financial security of their residents.

The data will be released in a free webinar at noon (EST) on Thursday, January 29. The webinar will be a good learning experience for organizations working to advance policies that improve the financial well-being of their state’s residents, as it will feature in-depth analysis about the Scorecard data and discussion about how advocates can use the data effectively. Sign up for the release webinar today.

There will be a number of ways for advocates to leverage the Scorecard to advance their work:

·         Customized Data Analysis. New to the Scorecard this year is a liquid asset poverty calculator, which tells you how much you’d need in savings to avoid being among the 44% of Americans living in liquid asset poverty, as well as how many people are considered asset poor in your state and local area. And, again this year, the Scorecard website will allow you to download customized charts and graphs that can be used as handouts for presentations or as leave-behinds for meetings with legislators. Visit the Media Resources page on January 29 for these and other interactive tools.

·         Downloadable Resource Guides & Customizable Policy Briefs. To accompany your state’s data, the Scorecard website allows you to download customizable briefs that assess your state on 68 different policies that span 44 different policy areas. CFED has also authored Resource Guides that go in-depth on several of the most pressing issues facing advocates as they work to expand economic opportunity. Together, these Policy Briefs and Resource Guides explain what steps states can take to promote financial security for their residents.

·         Customized Scorecard Presentations. If your organization or attendees at your events are interested in diving deeper, experts from CFED can deliver customized presentations that drill down on any or all of the 135 different measures of financial insecurity in your state. Email to get started.

Strong data can propel meaningful policy change, and we think the Assets & Opportunity
Scorecard is one tool that can help make a difference. We hope you’ll join us on the January 29 webinar to see all it has to offer as we work together to make 2015 a year of prosperity.

Friday, January 16, 2015

FACT SHEET: White House Unveils New Steps to Strengthen Working Families Across America

Tomorrow, the President will unveil new proposals to strengthen the middle class by giving working families the flexibility to balance their families and jobs and giving all Americans the opportunity to earn sick days.  Building on the steps the Administration announced last year during the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families, tomorrow’s announcement includes:

·         Calling on Congress, as well as States and cities, to pass legislation that would allow millions of working Americans to earn up to seven days of paid sick time per year;
·         Proposing more than $2 billion in new funds to encourage states to develop paid family and medical leave programs and announcing that the Department of Labor will use $1 million in existing funds to help States and municipalities conduct feasibility studies; and
·         Modernizing the Federal workplace by signing a Presidential Memorandum directing agencies to advance up to six weeks of paid sick leave for parents with a new child and calling on Congress to pass legislation giving federal employees an additional six weeks of paid parental leave. 

The challenge of balancing work and family has grown as families have shifted so that today in most families all parents work and all parents contribute to caregiving.  Across married and single parent families, all parents are working in more than 60 percent of households with children, up from 40 percent in 1965.  And today, more than 60 percent of women with children under the age of 5 participate in the labor force, compared with around 30 percent in the 1970s.  Yet the fundamental structure of work has not kept pace with the changing American family, and many families are struggling to balance obligations at home and on the job. In fact, the United States remains the only developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave.

That is why the President is announcing additional efforts to help working families that build on the steps he announced at last June’s White House Summit, including support for states to design paid leave programs and a Presidential Memorandum that established a “right to request” flexible workplace arrangements for Federal workers and directed Federal agencies to expand flexible workplace policies to the maximum possible extent. The White House Council on Economic Advisers also released a report last June on the economic benefits of paid leave. 


When 43 million private-sector workers are without any paid sick leave, too many workers are unable to take the time they need to recover from an illness. Many workers will go to work sick, putting their coworkers and customers at risk of illness. And even if workers have access to paid sick leave for themselves, they may not be able to use it to care for sick children.  This forces many parents to choose between taking an unpaid day off work—losing much needed income and potentially threatening his or her job—and sending a child who should be home in bed to school. 

Just as importantly, a body of research shows that offering paid sick days and paid family leave can benefit employers by reducing turnover and increasing productivity.  Paid sick days would help reduce lost productivity due to the spread of illness in the workplace. And these policies can benefit our economy by fostering a more productive workforce.  Policies that better support working families can meet the needs of both employers and employees alike, and strengthen America’s economy.  For this reason, it is no surprise that many businesses see the benefit of employees earning sick days.  Two years after passage of a law requiring workers to earn paid sick days in Connecticut, more than three-quarters of employers responding to a survey indicated that they supported the new law, and employers reported that there were little or no negative effects of the new law on their bottom line.

Tomorrow, the President will:

·         Call on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act.  The Healthy Families Act, championed by Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Patty Murray, would allow millions of working Americans to earn up to seven days per year of paid sick time.  Workers could use this time to care for themselves or a sick family member, obtain preventive care, or address the impacts of domestic violence. 

·         Call on States and cities to pass similar laws. While Congress considers the Healthy Families Act, states and localities should waste no time in passing their own laws allowing workers to earn sick leave.  In 2006, San Francisco became the first locality in the Nation to guarantee access to earned sick days.  In 2008, the District of Columbia followed suit, passing a paid sick days law that also included paid “safe” days for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  In 2011, Connecticut became the first state to pass a statewide paid sick days law.  It was followed by California and this year, voters in Massachusetts supported earned sick days by overwhelming majority.  A number of cities have also recently enacted laws allowing workers to earn and accrue sick leave, including Seattle, Portland, New York City, Newark, San Diego, Eugene, and Oakland.


Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), many workers may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off without losing their job to care for a new child, recover from a serious illness, or care for an ill family member (roughly 60 percent  of workers are eligible for the law’s protections).  However, employers are not required to provide paid leave for these purposes and often choose to make it unpaid.  For too many Americans, unpaid leave is unaffordable. Moreover, evidence shows that mothers, who do typically take some time off in order to give birth, are more likely to return to their jobs and to stay in the workforce if they are able to take paid maternity leave. Tomorrow, the President will:

·         Outline a new plan to help more states create paid leave programs. Three states—California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island—have launched programs offering paid family and medical leave, and President Obama believes that more can be done to promote state action.  His FY 2016 Budget will propose $2.2 billion in mandatory funding to reimburse up to five states for three years for the administrative costs and roughly half of the cost of benefits associated with implementing a program.  The President’s Budget will also include $35 million in competitive grants to assist states that are still building the administrative infrastructure they would need to launch paid leave programs in the future. 

·         Provide new funding for feasibility studies.  The Department of Labor is announcing that, using existing funds this year, it will offer $1 million in new funding for its Paid Leave Analysis Grant Program, providing competitive grants to six to ten states or municipalities to conduct paid leave feasibility studies.  These grants will be administered by the Women’s Bureau and builds on the tremendous response to last year’s grant program that provided a total of $500,000 to programs in three states and the District of Columbia.

·         Propose legislation to provide paid family leave to federal workers. While Federal workers already have access to paid sick leave and vacation time, the government has fallen behind industry-leading companies and offers no paid time off specifically for family or parental leave.  In order to recruit and retain the best possible workforce to provide outstanding service to American taxpayers, the President is proposing legislation similar to the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act championed by Rep. Maloney. The President’s proposal would provide Federal employees with six weeks of paid administrative leave for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child.  In addition, the proposal would allow parents to use sick days to care for a healthy child after a birth mother’s period of incapacitation or after an adoption.

·         Take action to modernize federal parental leave policy. Tomorrow, the President will sign a Presidential Memorandum directing agencies to allow for the advance of six weeks of paid sick leave for parents with a new child, employees caring for ill family members, and other sick leave-eligible uses.  This will allow mothers the opportunity to recuperate after child birth, even if they have not yet accrued enough sick leave.  It will also allow spouses and partners to care for mothers during their recuperation periods and will allow both parents to attend proceedings relating to the adoption of a child.  Advanced annual leave is to be made available to employees for placement of a foster child in their home.  Finally, the Presidential Memorandum directs agencies to consider a benefit some agencies already offer—help finding, and in some cases providing, emergency backup care for children, seniors, and adults with disabilities that parents can use when they need to go to work but their regular care is not available.  Some agencies provide this benefit through their Employee Assistance Program, and it can help parents with a temporary need for safe care for their children.