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Report: For Idaho’s Working Poor, Financial Insecurity “New Normal”

A new report shows Idaho's working poor is still struggling after the recession ended. (cohdra/morguefile)
A new report shows Idaho's working poor is still struggling after the recession ended. (cohdra/morguefile)
January 27, 2016

BOISE, Idaho - Almost half of Idaho households are stuck in a "new normal" of financial insecurity, lacking enough savings to pay the bills for three months in the event of an emergency.

That's one finding in a new report from the nonprofit consumer advocacy group, the Corporation for Enterprise Development. The group's ninth annual Assets and Opportunities Scorecard ranks the states on outcomes such as savings, income and poverty rates, and on policies that promote families' financial stability. Research manager Lebaron Sims, who co-wrote the report, says the state is plagued by low wages.

"Idaho really ranks toward the middle of the pack, ranked 21st overall on outcomes and a little bit worse off, 37th overall on policies," says Sims.

Idaho's lowest scores came in educational achievement and in health outcomes.

Sims suggests the state could help low-income families by expanding Medicaid, raising asset limits for public benefit programs and passing a state-earned income tax credit.

"It helps to give working families back money that they have earned," says Sims. "And allows them to use it to save, to start their own businesses, to provide them a safety net."

Idaho's best scores in the report are linked to higher-than-average rates of home and small business ownership.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ID