For regular readers of our blog, it may not be a surprise to read that nearly 46% of Californians are broke (meaning they don’t have enough savings to live at the poverty line for 3 months). It’s just $3,000, but almost half of Californians don’t have it. But did you know that the vast majority of those families (89%) are employed? Or that a full 25% of middle income households (families earning $56,113 to $91,356) are broke? These are the deeply concerning results of the 2014 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, which was released today.
What the data show is that for more and more of our hard working neighbors, the middle class dream remains out of reach. That dream deferred is more than sending your kids to college or becoming a homeowner – it is the hope of maintaining good health in order to continue providing for your family’s basic needs. Financial insecurity and the resulting stress are bad for your health. For example, low-income adults are 50% more likely to suffer heart disease than top earners. And the health impacts start in childhood.
How do we find the silver lining in these dismal statistics? One bad thing about financial insecurity is that it is interconnected with many other aspects of life, such as physical and mental health. But this is also the good thing – whenever we take steps to help our neighbors improve their financial situation, we also indirectly help them improve their health and the health of their children. So for every small business owner we help improve their income and for every single mother who starts saving with our support, we are also making an investment in the health of our community.