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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 http://assetsandopportunity.org/scorecard. Visit our media resources page for interactive data tools, including our asset poverty calculator, downloadable infographics, customizable charts and maps, and other data visualizations.

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