The 2007-2008 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard contains evidence that even profound and enduring ownership patterns can change and change fast.
In the two years since the release of the 2005 Scorecard, median net worth jumped 20% nationwide, while it jumped 68% for women and more than doubled for minorities. Most of these gains have come as a result of increasing homeownership and home values, and are therefore at risk that as interest rates rise and grace periods end, foreclosure rates will also rise.
The results underscore the efficacy of housing finance and credit innovation and the need for policing and reigning-in predatory lending. The current housing market crisis will undermine many of these gains.
Yet, the most important message of the 2007-2008 Scorecard, like its two predecessors, is the disparity in asset ownership – and, consequently, economic opportunity—among states, and by race, gender and income.
Net Worth - Median net worth in the US in 2004 was $65,150, but minorities had only 13 cents for each dollar their white fellow citizens did – largely the result of past government policy.
College Attainment - Seventy-two percent of Americans lacked the college attainment necessary today for a living wage income, but African Americans are nearly half as likely to have a college education as their white counterparts.
Asset Poverty - One fifth of the population does not possess enough belongings to survive 3 months without a job at the poverty line; more than half the population lacks sufficient liquid assets to put a downpayment on a home, invest in two-years at a community college or start a business.
Homeownership - 69% of Americans own their own homes – a determinant not only of financial stability, but future outlook and community commitment-- but less than half of minority families do (48.9%).
Health Care - Health insurance coverage from employers dropped another percentage point since the last Scorecard two years ago, to 63.2%, while medical debt remains a chief cause of bankruptcy.
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