FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Despite an improving national and state economy, new data released recently by the Corporation for Enterprise Development shows that many Connecticut residents are still struggling to afford the state’s high cost of living.
CFED’s 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard ranked the state among the lowest across various measures of housing affordability, including homeownership by income (47th), housing cost burden for renters (44th), housing cost burden for homeowners (43rd) and overall affordability of homes (39th).
The Scorecard found that limited savings and unstable employment make it harder for many Connecticut residents to keep up. It ranked Connecticut dead last (51st) among all states and the District of Columbia for average credit card debt and 36th for its high rate of underemployed residents, which is defined as part-time workers who want full-time jobs and discouraged workers who have stopped searching for employment.
The report also found that 14.9 percent of jobs were in occupations with low wages.
The Scorecard provides rankings for the 50 states and District of Columbia on both the ability of residents to achieve financial security and policies designed to help them get there.
While The Nutmeg State ranks in the bottom half of the country (27th) on overall outcomes for residents, the state is making a considerable effort to reverse this trend, and ranks near the top (7th) for its strong policies.
The state was also ranked in the Top 10 of all states in policies designed to promote Financial Assets & Income (3rd), Health Care (6th) and Education (5th).
To help boost low incomes and promote savings, the report suggests lifting asset tests on key social benefit programs, such as cash assistance and child care subsidies, continue pursuing policies that expand affordable housing and increase the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 27.5 percent to 30 percent of the federal credit.
“Connecticut is a high cost state, but it can become more affordable with more housing options and more higher-wage jobs,” Jim Horan, executive director of the Connecticut Association for Human Services, said in a statement. “Gov. [Dannel] Malloy’s policies have helped struggling residents, by funding construction of new supportive housing, redevelopment of public housing, a state EITC, and subsidized training and employment programs. We need to continue this momentum, by increasing the supply of lower-priced housing close to jobs and transit, and providing more adult literacy programs and training for middle skills jobs.”
The Scorecard evaluates how residents are faring across 67 measures in five issue areas—Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education.
The state ranked lowest by issue area in Housing & Homeownership, receiving a rating of “F” largely due to the low levels of homeownership and high cost of housing.
Connecticut received a “C” in Businesses & Jobs, ranking it 36th overall, driven largely by its second-to-last-place ranking in business creation.
Although Connecticut fared better in Financial Assets & Income, receiving a “B,” the state’s high average credit card debt ($14,147) places it dead last.
Debt was also a contributing factor in Education, with the state ranking 45th for average college graduate debt ($30,191) and 33rd for the percentage of college graduates with debt (64 percent).