If you suddenly lost your income, how long would you be able to live on your savings? For 43.9 percent of American households
, the answer is less than three months, even if they keep their spending to the most basic needs. That's not just true of families that know they're close to poverty, either—one in four households earning between $55,465 and $90,000 are in the same boat, according to the 2013 Assets & Opportunities Scorecard
Unsurprisingly, as bad as that overall figure of 43.9 percent of families not having enough liquid assets to get through three months is, the numbers are far worse for people of color (the scorecard categories are not broken down beyond that): 62.6 percent are liquid asset poor, and white households have a median net worth of $110,973, 10 times that of households of color at $10,824.
The scorecard, mapped out above, rates the states on how well they promote household financial security through jobs, education, health care, housing and financial assets. That means it looks not just at outcomes like how many people are three months from poverty or have health insurance, but what the states do on a policy level to make things better, like providing quality public education, having a minimum wage above the federal minimum of $7.25, prohibiting predatory payday lenders, supporting microenterprise, offering tax credits for working families. You know, things that are actually correlated with better outcomes for working people.
We know a lot about poverty, and about just how low the minimum wage is. But what's particularly scary about these numbers is the realization of how fragile the middle-class lives of so many middle-class people are, how many people could so quickly be thrown into poverty because of one medical crisis or job loss. And when you pair that with America's shredded safety net, it's terrifying.