Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Must-Read for President Obama: families face more insecurity

Economic insecurity appears more the rule than the exception for American families, and that trend has worsened in the last few years. So says a new study, “Economic Security Index,” just published by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Other highlights of the study, covering the period of 1985-2007, include:

-- The majority of Americans had no safety net of savings.
-- Economic insecurity has risen across all demographic groups in America, with African-Americans faring the worst of all.
-- About 28,000,000 Americans were economically insecure in 1985. They numbered 46,000,000 in 2007.
-- The rising prevalence of two-earner families does not appear to have provided a big income cushion to families, because of rising prices, especially for health care.
-- Projections to 2009 suggest that in the last few years the level of economic security experienced by Americans was greater than any other time over the past quarter century.
The July report is part of an effort to develop a coherent measure of economic insecurity, called the Economic Security Index (ESI), based on the joint occurrence of three major risks to economic well-being: 1) a major loss in income; 2) large out-of-pocket medical expenses; and 3) inadequate savings to buffer the first two risks.

The ESI, as defined in the 24-page July report, will be updated on a regular basis to include new data and specific risks not covered. It is designed to provide hard data to policymakers.

I learned of this study from a New York Times op-ed column by Bob Herbert. Though technically “opinion,” the July 17 column has more facts than you’ll find in news reported by some parts of the media.

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