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Map showing state outcomes on the 2013 Assets & Opportunities Scorecard. Top 10: MT, AK, HI, ND, MN, MA, NH, VT, ME. Bottom 10: NV, AZ, NM, AR, MS, AL, TN, GA, FL, NC, SC.
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.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:13 PM PST.

Also republished by Hunger in America, Barriers and Bridges, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not even a crisis sometimes... (20+ / 0-)

    Take the G.I. Bill...

    When classes let out for winter break, before the spring semester starts...

    You don't get paid for that.

    Good luck finding a job for three weeks to cover the gap.

    Or try negotiating with your landlord to let you skip 3 weeks worth of rent.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:16:15 PM PST

  •  Three months? (19+ / 0-)

    HA! The truly scary part is how many of us fall into the 'less than' part of this. And how short that 'less than' really is.

    God Bless America!

    Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

    by earicicle on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:19:38 PM PST

    •  Yup. (10+ / 0-)

      I suspect it would be hard to get all the data, but finding out how that three months breaks down would be especially interesting.

      •  I also think data about what going off of (8+ / 0-)

        that cliff really means would be especially important to look at.

        One of the key principles that a lot of people have ignored as so many have fallen into poverty is that it is a lot tougher and more expensive to rebuild than it is to help people hold on and ride out an economic crisis.

        The GOP will go out and find poster boys for rising out of the ashes like a Phoenix, but for every person who was able to come back big, there are going to be a whole lot more who have not been able to do that - and may never be able to.

      •  How about one day? (11+ / 0-)

        I've been surprised - and really disturbed - to find out how many of my staff check their online accounts for the very moment our paychecks get direct-deposited. Several were very concerned that Christmas fell on a payday, so we moved it up a day.

        I work in a fairly low-wage, nonprofit field, and I've been a lot poorer than I am now, so I'm not unrealistic about how hard it is to get by.  But I was truly shocked to find out that people with fulltime jobs w/good benefits were living so close to the edge.  They don't make a lot of money, but it puts them near the median for our state.  

        Three months always seemed like a real minimum cushion to me, and I've tried to keep my emergency funds closer to six months.  Even when I wasn't making much money, I couldn't stand the stress of living from paycheck to paycheck, so I always found a way to save a tiny bit of my pay.  Growing up with parents who lived through the Depression drilled that savings mantra into me.  But it's not an easy thing to do, especially with fallling wages and nonstop consumer marketing.

        •  Same here (7+ / 0-)

          I now know what it is like to worry about gasoline.

          I endured a long term unemployment which ran through a severance, a 401k and pulling a pension out as well as UI. I was moments from no money at all when I obtained my new job.

          My team does the same thing - I can't even begin to express how proud I feel of them and how they make it work on a very small salary in today's very expensive world. We all work 40 hours and one team member works two 16 hour shifts on the weekend. I wish I could give them more. I never knew - I must have been blind to it.

          The only way for me to build the cushion and begin another round of a 401k is to move to the dicey part of this area to save over $600 in rent and $100 in gasoline. We're packing this weekend ...

          •  Working just to get by (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NancyWH, Dube, TerryDarc, Gorette

            can seem kind of fruitless sometimes.  I'm lucky to have been in the same job long enough to be now making what I consider to be a "comfortable" salary, although I know kids just out of college who are making far more in financial or technology jobs.  But I've made lots of tradeoffs, like living in a fairly funky house, driving my cars for 10+ years, minimal amount of buying "new" stuff, etc.  

            And since my job is dependent on government funding, it could be gone at anytime.  Like you, my 30 years worth of savings could also vanish in a couple of years.  So sometimes, "what's the point?" does come to mind...  

            Best of luck in your new job and with your move.

    •  The uber-wealthy are thousands of years (15+ / 0-)

      from poverty.
         It seems that the more those folks hoard all the cash, the more that regular, everyday people lose their security.

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:34:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes and no. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior

        If the market is as screwed up as it was before the crash (and most reporting suggests that the fundamental problems are still there), then they are at risk, too.

        I don't know if anyone made the connection that when the CEOs for delayed Social Security came out, around the same time it was reported that Goldman Sachs was cycling out their older partners - and that group are mostly in their 50s.  They've got a lot of years between now and 65 or 70 to lose it all.

        The worst part is that especially in retirement years, you could easily go into that part of your life with plenty of money and assets secured, but find yourself dealing with an early onset chronic disease or affliction that would drain you much, much faster than you could have ever imagined.  

        •  Many of them will retain their channels (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior

          to insider information -- which for most of them is good enough to keep them one step ahead of the suckers.

          The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

          by Words In Action on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:03:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Hoard cats, they say you are crazy (4+ / 0-)

        Hoard money, you're the Republican presidential nominee.

        Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

        by tcorse on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 08:53:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Part of the cash hoarding (0+ / 0-)

        Is that the Fed has been messing with interest rates for so long that the truly savvy private investors are quite (justifiably) wary of the US stock market.  They sit on their cash and wait for sanity or the next crash, whichever comes first.  (Probably a crash, since nothing really changed after 2008, for all the conservative caterwauling about the free market being in peril).

        Many retirees who used to be able to count on 6-8% returns on very low risk investments are struggling to get 1%, which they cannot live on.  I don't know who the endless QE and buying of buying mortgage-backed securities stuff is helping but it isn't the average Joe.

  •  The minimum wage needs to rise to a living wage. (11+ / 0-)

     The American Jobs Act must be re-introduced, and passed. Taxes need to be imposed on businesses that outsource jobs, the Buffet Rule needs to go into effect, and stock and commodities trades need to be taxed.

       These very modest changes will begin to make a dent in the desperation so many Americans feel, and will start to reduce the trend of gross inequality driving us to Third World status.

    "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

    by elwior on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:28:32 PM PST

    •  Minimum Wage Inversely Correlated To Financial (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gorette, llywrch

      Assets and income in Laura's map (as linked) up top. US Dept. of Labor minimum wage map here.

      Across the south, deep red territory, only FL has higher than Fed minimum wage of $7.25/hr. That works out to $14,500 per year. Try buying a house or raising a family on that!

      TX is at Fed min and the rest are at or BELOW the Federal minimum or have no minimum wage at all, however FMWA (Fair Minimum Wage Act) covers everyone.

      WY has the lowest ($5.15/hr or a booming $2.13 if you receive tips!) and WA has the highest ($9.19).

      If the R's were right, states w/o minimum wage (LA, MS, AL, TN and SC) should be doing better than the rest of the US but they all get D's and F's but I expect that the swells are doing just fine down on their plantations.

      Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

      by TerryDarc on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 11:01:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Low minimum wage is really anti-family, because (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TerryDarc

        as you say, you cannot support a family on that and must have government assistance which they want to stop. So, duh, give better wages then they won't need the assistance!

        Recently talked to snotty REPUB econ prof who wants to cut everything no matter who it kills. Like 20% off SS right off the bat. When I asked what about minim wage and how do you support a family on that he ignored the question.

        "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

        by Gorette on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 11:34:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Show Him The Maps (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Gorette

          Of minimum wage and Financial Assets and Income. Then ask him how the public schools in his town are doing.

          Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

          by TerryDarc on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 11:39:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  You Will Be Financially Ruined Before You Die (12+ / 0-)

    This system will figure out how to extract your wealth from you and deliver it to the top one percent one way or another -- if nothing else, through end-of-life elder care or medical costs that are pretty much guaranteed to bankrupt you. Even for those of us who manage to save enough to weather a crisis or to, we are just staving off the inevitable.

    Remember the concept of "leaving something behind for the next generation?"

    It's not likely to be money.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:40:22 PM PST

  •  It is impossible to save on the average income (16+ / 0-)

    My husband and I make well above average. We drive clunker cars so have no car payments. We live, close to retirement age, in a house that most would consider "starter" material, with a mortgage payment half of what rent is in this neighborhood. We save at least 25% of our income, some of which then goes to car repairs, etc.

    But if we were cut off from all income, we'd last right at three months on our savings if we really scrimped. How do we expect someone making $200 a week to save?

    This is why we must, somehow, create a public infrastructure for transportation, health care, housing, and food. Someone making very little money who could at least rely on the essentials would be able to contribute much more to society than it would cost someone like me in taxes.

    "Maybe life's meaning is not so much found, as it is made." Opus, by Berke Breathed

    by Lisa in Bama on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:44:59 PM PST

    •  This is why (9+ / 0-)

      it's so important to push back, hard, on all of the "just cut out the Starbucks and your financial problems will all go away" bullshit. We as a society have an income problem and need to acknowledge that.

    •  Great post. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llywrch

      I live in an affluent town.  Lots of Romney/Ryan signs about a few months ago.  Massive houses.  Cars worth more than the average American's house everywhere.  Tones Real Housewives types roaming around in $800 track suits.  (We moved here for the schools.  It's also a beautiful, safe place.)

      And you can regularly overhear conversations in Starbucks about the horror of poor people having "no skin in the game" and you hear people moan about the fundamental unfairness of means testing for social security.  They "did the right thing" by saving and being responsible and why are they being "punished" for it.  They whine about the high price of educating "anchor babies".  They leave with their double short skim lattes and return to their McMansions where illegal immigrants are mowing their lawns or mopping their floors or looking after their kids.  There is a very big disconnect.

      I grew up like most people: middle class.  The type of life I had growing up seems to be disappearing.  It's very sad.

  •  Having so many people out of work in long (11+ / 0-)

    term drains the rest of the economy. no one is paying taxes, buying goods and services, making government spend more on food stamps and poverty programs.

    "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

    by blueoregon on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:56:26 PM PST

  •  ha.i'm so broke now,i'd need a loan (9+ / 0-)

    to climb back up into regular poverty; which I recall fondly.
    had to go down the union hall again this morning.
    this boy has no job as of right now, bong.
    ah, it'll b ok, probably. Savings? Come on. Checks. Checks.
    Every 2 weeks, checks. Paychecks. There's nothing else.
    I made 21.5 last year, looked at my W-2 they sent.
    40 years ago, that would've been money! Not now.
    There's no heat. The water's currently off again from a frozen busted meter and cracked pipes. We have limited electric and holes in the roof. Winter is an adventure festival. I got an electric blanket. On sale.
    I got blankets. Gotta try to tough out another couple months and then get something figured out better. I don't like crooks or selfish demons.
    I wanted many more in jail. Woulda cheered me up.
    I may file a grievance Friday. SEIU. hooray. We'll see.
    I give the company 1 day to tell me what they got. 15 years.
    I will work.

    always have.

    clime parches on. terms: ocean rise, weather re-patterning, storm pathology, drout-famine, acceptance of nature.

    by renzo capetti on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 02:14:45 PM PST

  •  And I'm one of them (9+ / 0-)

    Actually, not sure I could last 3 months. My (self-employment) income plunged abruptly by 45% in January of 2009 and has only minimally improved since then. Had to start getting early Social Security last year so that I could pay my estimated taxes... for Social Security! It's bizarre.

    Not like I could get a real job either. No one is going to hire a 63-year-old.

    I need to sell my house and downsize significantly, but it needs a bit of work and there's certainly no money for that. I'm just grateful that I've been able to scrape together the mortgage payment all this time. At least it's not underwater.

    Sigh.

  •  I had a real life test of that. (9+ / 0-)

    It turns out I could make it about eighteen months after spending my 401(k), all of my severance pay, borrowing tens of thousands of dollars and living on unemployment and my wife's small income. (Oh, and forgot to mention mowing lawns in the summertime.)

    Of course the question now is, will I ever get out of this hole at 64 years old even with a job? And will this economy allow my current employer to continue in business for that long?

    Thank you Bush, Jr. for this wonderful economy. I was really upset when you were elected but I didn't think it would affect me directly. How wrong I was.

  •  If you're on food stamps or TANF (4+ / 0-)

    You can't keep three months of expenses to the side, unless you don't keep it in the bank. If you have that kind of 'assets' they lower or take your benefits entirely. And yet, we're all supposed to 'pull ourselves up by our boot straps'. Right now we have a little tucked away, but that's moving costs for once we get approved for a new place. It will be gone once we move. If we don't move before the food stamps re-approval comes around, I'll have to pull that out of the bank until it's done, or they'll count it against us.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 03:35:15 PM PST

  •  Heavily skewed to red states on the bottom. (0+ / 0-)

    You'd think those voters would learn. Guess that's why some call it the dumb-belt.

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 03:59:15 PM PST

  •  I'm one who's only a couple of weeks (4+ / 0-)

    from disaster.  I have, however, paid several debts off completely, and got a loan at a MUCH lower rate to get rid of another.

    My present to myself for paying my car off was to start a savings account, in part to cover car expenses.  It's building up, probably less slowly than it seems.

    In less than three years, I will be out of debt, and having discovered that I can live very comfortably on less than I make, I will be shoveling money toward my retirement once that happens.  My job is in no danger that I can see - I will certainly not lose it in any manner that will preclude unemployment (which I have collected exactly three weeks of in my entire working life).

    Starting this weekend, I will be trying a financial experiment.  If it works, I will be reporting back.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:03:47 PM PST

  •  And, more and more, Climate Change will be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ramoth, FloridaSNMOM

    the source of that crisis.

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:06:10 PM PST

    •  I'm Waiting For R's To Say Warming Is A Benefit (0+ / 0-)

      on your Winter heating bills. Their gift to the poor.

      Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

      by TerryDarc on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 11:08:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not just individuals (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ramoth, FloridaSNMOM

    millions of small businesses. One climate change disruption away...

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:07:34 PM PST

  •  We would last a month or two (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SteelerGrrl, FloridaSNMOM

    but only because we now can access my teeny-tiny IRA (under five figures) and because I have gov't benefits. If my husband lost one of his four part-time jobs he wouldn't be able to collect unemployment, either (because he has three more sources of income). He's going to be 60 this year. I pray that I get better and that his health remains strong over the next 6 years. Can't wait for him to be able to collect his SS and also continue to work without penalty. (I'm not exactly kidding, alas.)

    Savings? What is this thing called savings?

    It might be interesting to put up a poll with the choices being how long you could survive on your "savings." There is a WIDE range of incomes/assets on this site, some of which might be revealed by such a survey. The poll would have to start with the option--no time at all. So many of us live basically from paycheck to paycheck with no assets whatsoever.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 04:33:30 PM PST

  •  No North-South divide on that map is there? (6+ / 0-)

    "I smoke. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your fuckin' mouth." --- Bill Hicks

    by voroki on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 07:14:36 PM PST

  •  how does it get better? that's what i want to know (6+ / 0-)

    i lost my job and i wouldn't have made it even 90 days if i hadn't gotten another job that very same day.  the job i got was work 1/3 what i was making in the job i lost, but it was just enough to pay the bare minimum.  it took 6 months for me to get above just enough to get by.  even now, i still make about 3/4 what i made on the job i lost.

    the free market is great in a lot of ways, but one bad thing is how completely devastating it can be to lose your job

    Wouldn't you like to be a pepper too?

    by AntonBursch on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 07:16:44 PM PST

  •  It's an extremely effective method of control (14+ / 0-)

    People near the edge won't go on strike, or even make too much trouble at work (like organizing).
     

    ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

    by gjohnsit on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 07:17:41 PM PST

  •  We're There At This Moment If Not Saved by th Bell (7+ / 0-)

    of the passing of a relative, leaving us bailout worth a few months. We're trying to figure out how to finance this month's dental work of mine, and it really needs to be done this month. Of course I'm how-you-say "insured."

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 07:18:57 PM PST

  •  Cue all the "personal responsibility" advocates (14+ / 0-)

    here at DKos that will blame this on poor choices, and will tell anecdotes about how they get by fabulously with [often similar stuff] in [often totally different circumstances and markets].

    "Hey, I'm a farmer that chose to live in North Dakota and I drive a 22-year-old vehicle and don't have a microwave but instead cook on a range. You decided to become an editor and live in New York, it's your own damn fault, what poor decisions you made [nevermind that you don't even have a car and your $2000 studio apartment is too small for anything but a microwave]."

    Sorry, as someone struggling to raise a family in America today, I get really fed up with some of the posters here that immediately suggest that if you're struggling, you should have done better in school [I did], chosen a different profession [I asked advice, did research, and listened to counselors all the way], or not bought those 12 big-screen plasma TVs [which I don't have] or iPhone 5s for you, your spouse, and all of your kids [we didn't].

    It is possible, in a system as rigged as this one, to do all of the "right" things at the time and still come out on the wrong end of things. And yes, we can see that a few percent of the population ended up doing very well, but just because you can take a retrospective look at their careers and see that their decisions bore fruit doesn't mean that everyone that didn't do exactly the same things was making bad decisions (we didn't know then which ones would pan out) or that if everyone had made those decisions, everyone would be so much better off (instead, if everyone had chosen to become today's most in-demand careers or live in today's cheapest areas, those careers would not be so in-demand or those areas so cheap; rather than everyone being better off, the apparent "wise winners" wouldn't seem any wiser than the rest of us do now).

    -9.63, 0.00
    "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

    by nobody at all on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 07:20:30 PM PST

  •  It would be interesting to know how many (15+ / 0-)

    of the 40% one step away from poverty voted for Mitt Romney.

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 07:27:01 PM PST

  •  This diary is depressing but thanks (9+ / 0-)

    for posting it.  It perfectly illustrates why progressives/mainstream Democrats cannot allow politicians to slash the safety net.

  •  Really disturbing numbers. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, ontario, maryru, NancyWH

    One-fourth of households making between $55,465 and $90,000....  So even being "middle class" doesn't protect you from being 3 months from poverty, though I admit that once you make that much, I wonder about overspending (Not so much from a holier-than-though perspective, though there's undoubtedly some of that, but more from a never-learned-to-manage-money perspective, which schools don't really teach [And I think should be taught], though of course, since incomes have been declining, it's likely a lot of families even with higher incomes have ended up in that situation due to lost jobs and reduced paychecks.  I don't mean to attack anyone here, but think lack of a financial education affects a lot of people - from upper class professionals with enough income to be able to live quite well even without it, down to those who are not able to save much at all).

    •  Life Skills (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Flying Goat, NancyK

      should be a high-school subject if it is not already. The place where I work offers a budgeting course for the Senior classes in the area schools that ask for it.

      However, I had to butt right up to a crisis before I learned. Internet - yes, cable TV - no. No food is wasted, auto excursions are planned. I love my new job, even when it pays 1,700 less per month than my old job.

      Turns out, you can teach an old dog a new trick.

    •  I suspect student loans and other early debt. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Flying Goat, AllFleshFromGrass

      55,000 sounds like a lot, but not if you have a ton of debt from getting a degree to get that decent job. I make 42,000, which is plenty on its own, but I have 25,000 in graduate school debt now. Back when I had no debt, I could save on $11/hour (I live in a cheap place). It makes a big difference. But I needed that degree to get in the door where I am now, so it's worth it if I can STAY employed. Therein lies the problem - and many people choose the wrong field in college or have to return later in life, paying a premium.

  •  Another graph fail (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, zinger99, tcorse, Odysseus, OLinda

    When are people who make graphs going to learn that many people have trouble distinguishing colors?  With more contrasting colors I would be able to differentiate 21-30 and 31-40.

    Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary. Does it improve the silence. (Courtesy Kos)

    by Scioto on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 07:38:50 PM PST

    •  Not to mention, I have no idea what this graph (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, OLinda, ThatPoshGirl, schnecke21

      is supposed to be telling me.  1-10 what?  11-20 what?  41-51 what?  Is dark orange good or bad?  Is grey good or bad?  What am I looking at here and why do I seem to be the only person who can't figure it out?  Is it simply too early and not enough coffee?  i've read the story three times and followed the link in hopes of finding an explanation but I can't seem to get to anything that gives me the key to understanding this graph.

      The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. Jane Addams

      by Alice Olson on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 05:56:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  NYTs article about baby boomers and recession (5+ / 0-)

      It seems the lesser depression has hit baby boomers the hardest economically.  It actually could cut years off a person's life, because they couldn't get healthcare.  Whoever started the generational warfare against boomers should be feeling smug with this news.  

    Shine like the humblest star.

    by ljm on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 07:41:00 PM PST

  •  I've read articles saying that not only do most (6+ / 0-)

    households, including middle-class ones, not have enough cash on hand to cover three months of living expenses, but most couldn't even come up with $2000 of cash. They couldn't replace a high-end laptop on short notice, much less survive a job loss. Our finances are so fragile! BRB breathing into a paper bag for a while.

  •  I am already there (8+ / 0-)

    46 yr old male, MBA married 2 kids and a wife, needed to resign from my job after 19+ years to care for my child who was sick, he is now better, but after 12 months of job hunting, there are no jobs to be found, so I am living on the last of our life savings.  Next option is getting a job at a fast food joint.  So much for a MBA . Also no unemployment available because I resigned to care for child, would have been better If I got fired.  

    •  Please don't take offense (5+ / 0-)

      and you probably already know this - or it doesn't apply in your state. But I worked in an Unemployment office for awhile and there was a provision that even if you resigned, you could eventually collect UI if you earned enough money over the course of several months.  So even a really bad part-time job in retail/fast food for awhile might make you eligible for benefits.  You usually collect the difference between what you make and what your UI would be, plus a little bonus.   Again, benefits depend on the state, so it really makes a big difference if you're in NYC or Alabama.  But taking a low wage, short-term job might help you out more than it seems.  I'd encourage you to scrutinize the small print in the UI regs, if you haven't already.  And if this is old news, sorry to be repeating the obvious.

      Best of luck to you, and blessings for taking care of your child.

    •  I and my spouse have advanced degrees (6+ / 0-)

      (both multiples, in fact).

      We were making good money in NYC in 2007 and living well there. Then, in 2008, things started to go downhill. But by doing contract work, we stayed in the game—but just making ends meet.

      After much discussion and hand-wringing, we made what seemed like the best decision at the time: continue to do the contract work based in NYC, but move to a much cheaper market where the dollars would go farther and we could save, working remotely and traveling when necessary. We didn't think we would lose the several instances contract work; it seemed very stable and we we valued, and we thought we had very good and solid networking and reputation.

      For a while, this went very well. Take middling NYC dollars to Utah and things are pretty good. But then we lost the contract work. First one contract, then another, and so on—and we have had more trouble than we anticipated making new connections.

      Now we're in a much smaller market with many fewer opportunities and much less money when you find them. Now we couldn't afford to go back to NYC without some serious miracles, but this market isn't doing us any favors at the same time—I don't think we appreciated just how big an opportunity sphere NYC was in comparison to other markets.

      Turns out all we did by trying to be strategic and put ourselves in a position to save more was lock ourselves into a much worse market with much less money and opportunity long-term.

      -9.63, 0.00
      "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

      by nobody at all on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 09:58:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  damn (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NancyWH, TerryDarc

        You made what sounds like very strategic decisions, but got undermined by bad luck.  I have a couple of friends who've done the same thing - moved out of NYC to live on their UI benefits in a cheaper market while riding out the recession and looking for new jobs.  It worked for one of them (just barely), who is now pretty happy in his new hometown.  The other friend is in your position - UI ran out, very limited job prospects in a small city, and no spare cash to relocate back to the Big Apple.  

        But then again, might you have ended up in worse shape if you stayed in the city, with its much higher living costs?  

        It always irritates me when conservatives do the "bootstrap Horatio Alger" story, focusing only on someone working hard as the key to success.  Most of us work very hard, many of us work even harder than fabulously wealthy people.  There's a big element of chance involved in where we end up (combined with factors of where we started out, of course).  As Warren Buffett puts it, his children are members of the Lucky Sperm class.

        Best of luck to you.  I hope things turn around.

  •  A wage slave is a wage slave (7+ / 0-)

    Indentured servitude is STILL indentured servitude if you depend on payment for your labor.   There are many making 6 figures who are still wage slaves - working 60-80 hours a week, never taking the vacation time they are due, on call 24/7 and destined to be replaced when they reach 50 with a younger version of themselves - never to work again for the salary they have enjoyed up to that point.

    The war between those living off of capital and those living off of labor has been won by those with capital.  But the warfare continues with more and more capital being accumulated in fewer and fewer hands.

    The truly wealthy make money from their money.  Those who labor to support themselves live in a totally different world.  Those who own the capital are determined to drive the price of labor - whatever the job or skills required - to the lowest possible level.

    Life isn't fair but you should try to leave it fairer than you found it.

    by xrepub on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 07:44:41 PM PST

    •  Yes, But There Is A Fundamental Difference (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llywrch

      I mean, you're going to say, duh! Being rich is ever so much nice, but my point is, even if you're making 6 figures and working 60-80 hrs/wk, you're probably not NEARLY as stressed out b/c you're in control. Control is the difference between stressful but not eating at you and stressful, living in fear.

      When I worked for myself, private contractor, at the end of my career, I was happy as could be. The company could fire me and I'd find another gig. If they didn't want me, I didn't want to be there. This led to better quality of work from me and a lot, lot, lot less stress on the job.

      I think, too, those high-roller jobs are equity positions, partnership positions where the remuneration is delayed but forthcoming. Lotsa reasons why I don't feel sorry for the guys earning big bucks but still employees.

      That, and they're also probably Republicans.

      Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

      by TerryDarc on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 10:22:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm Jobless in Nevada (We're #51, Yay!!!) (8+ / 0-)

    Haven't worked since 2010. I am hopefully moving out of this shithole state this summer, back to the midwest where I may be able to find an actual job with the degree I just earned, and thus be back in these statistics soon.

    Las Vegas Nevada is the perfect example of a Republican Low Tax, Free Market Driven, No Investment in Public Schools utopia. Most of the students here are so poorly educated, their actually happier (think ignorance, they don't read the paper or understand the predicament they are in). Most of the adult population are transplants from somewhere else and come in 4 flavors:

    Retired, don't give damn about anyone else, not going to pay for anything except my own needs. Own or rent, drives a car.

    People with a "decent" job for now (the people the chart above is for), living check to check, most likely underwater on their mortgage or renting. Drives a car.

    Casino/fast food workers. barely making it, might get SNAP. renting. Drives a car, if possible.

    Flat out broke, living with someone they know or on the street, don't remember what hope feels like. Avoids the public transportation system, whenever possible. Tries to avoid getting run over by everyone else, in the meantime.

    •  Good Luck... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llywrch

      ...you paint a grim picture. The Midwest, especially the upper part seems to be a place where hope is still alive, economically speaking.

      Also, if one had the entire country, the Northeast and parts of the east coast. It's odd b/c we were just in NV (Las Vegas) for the first time in a long time, for my last niece's wedding and the cabby, an emigre from Ukraine, was extolling the virtues of LV! He made it sound like people were doing ok.

      Your mileage has obviously varied and I wish you the best in your move. If you've got the strength and will to do it, I would. Really.

      Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

      by TerryDarc on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 10:16:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes I am from Minneapolis area. (0+ / 0-)

        and can't wait to get back to a place infused with progressive educated people, and a decent public transportation system so I don't have to feel like a social leper. Oh and jobs and stuff.

        It might be warm here but the soil is not fertile, and there is little rain. This could apply to the social and economic structure as well as the climate.

  •  THIS, me droogs, is "SKIN IN THE GAME" (5+ / 0-)

    Never let our legislators forget it.

    YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

    by raincrow on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 07:57:11 PM PST

  •  Scary shit indeed. My wife and I need to (11+ / 0-)

    decide how to hang onto our house. Here I am at the age of 71 figuring out how to get some more income. I was supposedly "retired." Suddenly our back fence is falling down, we need a new roof, the house needs painted, and our plumbing just cost us some money we didn't have. We suddenly have a dental bill of $900 (that we don't have). And on and on. I used to be a contractor but all my old customers are almost all gone. The ones that are left hardly call anymore.

    One of these days all of us in the same boat should pool our resources, all contribute, all work at things that can help us all, create a cooperative business/labor pool/talent pool/errand pool/transportation pool, pass the money around, pass the food around, and pass around both the misery and the bounty.

    Hey, sounds like all the ancient tribes, doesn't it?

    "They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win."--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over."

    by Wildthumb on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 07:58:40 PM PST

    •  The old clients are not calling because they are (10+ / 0-)

      broke too.  They need lots of work done but, there is no money to pay anyone to do the work.
      depression:  Plenty of work but, no money to pay.

      •  i need tires on my 10 yr old van (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TerryDarc, raincrow

        i need electrical work on my 8 yr old one. Wife is out of work and property tax bill soared under Christie ( no one ever mentionsthis in the press )and so no money to fix the cars, no money for local mechanic. and no money for a new car...i also need to waterproof the basement and mouseproof it. Roof needs some patching due to superstrom Sandy.

      •  True Dat (0+ / 0-)

        I'm hoping that PBO is able to get congress to stimulate the economy even more. Not sure that's going to help the OP - he's the same age I am. How you go about finding work in your 8th decade is really, really a daunting task.

        In civilized countries, there are social safety nets to help. We've got a rental that the county kicks in half to help the single, older woman there make ends meet. We're happy to have her and happier still to pick up the $250 per month (not much of a rental, but hey) and spend it locally.

        That's the start of a virtuous cycle. If we lived near the OP, we'd be happy to offer him some work, actually.

        Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

        by TerryDarc on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 09:59:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Data fudgey? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PaloAltoPixie, TerryDarc, llywrch

    First, I never can figure out how studies like this get their data. They have these very precise-sounding figures, down to the last dollar. But how? No one comes around asking me how much money I have in the bank, or what percentage of my income I pay for housing. And presumably my bank isn't telling them either -- hope not! So there has to be a lot of estimating and extrapolating, and I don't trust it.

    Second, I looked at the detail for my own state, and that made me even more skeptical. For example, it said that we do not allow people to opt out of getting a paper paycheck. That's just flat-out wrong; I get direct deposit (with an online electronic pay stub) and have for years, on two different jobs. So if that's wrong, what else did they get wrong?

    I don't question the basic narrative (Elizabeth Warren and her daughter documented some of this a decade ago), but do question these particular numbers and descriptions and rankings, as drawing too many conclusions from too little data, or none at all just guessing and estimates.

    •  Direct Deposit Might Be An Option (0+ / 0-)

      Rather than state law. Jus' saying. The idea of WHY direct deposit is so important is more a measure of security than convenience. Your two jobs might have offered this b/c they were better places to work. The mini-marts on the corners in your state capital might not offer that service to their employees.

      Lots of neighborhoods in inner cities might not be a place to stroll around looking for an ATM or a bank.

      Personally, I think the map is fascinating and I expect that the data was from required public records although, I must admit, if I had to assign my state grade, I wouldn't have come close.

      Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

      by TerryDarc on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 09:52:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  People Lie When They Say They Are Doing Fine (5+ / 0-)

    The stressed faces you see on other drivers that you pass by are people thinking...

    If I lose my job or the company goes belly up...
    How much of a credit line do I have left?
    Will I get back vacation pay and how much will it cover.
    How long can I go without paying rent or mortgage before landlord/banks can legally evict/foreclose.
    What second source of income can turn into primary?
    Ask them how they are doing though and they are doing fine.
  •  I'm in surprisingly good shape, considering. (5+ / 0-)

    My paycheck ran up and down the dial a few times. I've turned out to be surplus labor for three recessions in my life.

    But now, I'm not only in a secure gig with prime benefits, I bought a fourplex to live in and rent out. It's a nest egg paying for itself and giving me an effective raise in free rent, so I don't have other debts. When I'm full of tenants, as I am, I have savings enough for a year, year and a half. 26 weeks of unemployment insurance will stretch that to two years at least.

    I was never thoughtful about money, but I seem to have lurched into security, enough at least that I don't think they'll find me at last under a bridge. So long as I over pay my mortgage, the rents will become gravy shortly after I retire.

    And yes, I have to invest in some serious upkeep. But enough about me....

    To My Colonoscopist

    I think that I shall never see
    so far up you as you up me.

    by shieldvulf on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 08:15:37 PM PST

  •  Only because I'm a single, childless professional (5+ / 0-)

    I have about six months take home in the bank, not because I'm a good saver.

    If I adopted a ramen noodle lifestyle, I might, just might, make it a year+ unemployed. Meaning I'd have that much time to find a job in my previous salary range or sell the house. Selling the house could give me a lot more time, as I got dang lucky on the purchase price.

    So, an outlier like me might just be able to come out the other end at least avoiding bankruptcy, and maybe with a little cash left. But that assumes the worst thing that happens to me is I lose my job.

    Yay?

    Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

    by tcorse on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 08:52:09 PM PST

  •  The north-south distribution in this chloropleth (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH, TerryDarc

    is intriguing.

    •  Off Topic But (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llywrch

      What a great word! With its own wiki page.

      You're right tho about the N-S divide, except that if you drill down into the data (as far as this chloropleth allows), there are oddities in the south and elsewhere.

      The west is downrated by how expensive our housing is, e.g. It is a very interesting map and I've bookmarked it, hoping to be able to find it again.

      Rec'd for that great word.

      Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

      by TerryDarc on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 09:46:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  if this is fixed by legislation the left is fuckin (4+ / 0-)

    g totally fucked up.

    anything not good for the 1% is tagged for special treatment and the think tanks go to work with their PR pros and they design a response and pump it through their talk radio monopoly first where they know for sure, with 20 years previous experience, that the left won't even notice it before it's too late, much less respond to it.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 02:07:40 AM PST

  •  Glass half full or empty (0+ / 0-)

    The comments gave clarity to the article. For most of us this economy is not good. An if the sequester is put into effect on March first, things are going to get allot worse for this country's economy. I can not understand how so many Republicans can not see that. For if the middle class goes under, this consumer based economy will collapse. We must as a people come to the understanding that we need each other. That the fate of one of us effects all of us. I believe that a solution could start with wage and price controls. An a national health care plan, for it is the health care costs that are hurting this economy the most. These would be at least a start for making the glass half full.

  •  Chart Never Explained (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    llywrch

    I have read this article three times and it never explains the legend of the chart - does an orange state have high percentage of folks protected from quick bankruptcy or a low percentage?

    If a chart is central to the article its meaning should always be explained or else why show it?

  •  I'm good for 36 mos (0+ / 0-)

    and that would leave me stripped entirely bare to the nothing.

    YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

    by raincrow on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 08:33:03 PM PST

  •  What about the folks still really suffering from (0+ / 0-)

    the physical aftermath of Sandy in NY and NJ? Homes and neighborhoods destroyed, infrastructure gone, local businesses and jobs destroyed and no hope of resuming operations any time soon. Huge impact on them in this context, and not likely captured in this research.

    "...stories of past courage can define that ingredient..... But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul." JFK Profiles in Courage " Ontario

    by ontario on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 09:36:15 PM PST

  •  This is really bad news and I hope there is no (0+ / 0-)

    further downturn the suffering is already extensive and the social chaos here and there such as gun shot deaths goes in a horrible direction.

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