While Connecticut is a state of great prosperity, it’s also a state of enormous inequality, the latest report from Connecticut Voices for Children found.
The report, which focused less on income and more on family assets, found home ownership and median net worth have dropped since 2005, more households have zero or negative net worth, or have filed for bankruptcy, and fewer have checking accounts and get health insurance from employers.
The report also found that white households have average assets that exceed $179,000, compared to just $7,000 for minority households. “That is minority households in Connecticut on average have just 4 percent the wealth of white households. This places our minority families at enormous financial risk, and constricts the opportunities for their children to achieve a better life,” Shelley Geballe, president of CT Voices for Children, said in a press release.
In addition, minorities are less than 60 percent as likely to own a home.
The report calculated that one in five households is asset poor, meaning they do not have sufficient resources to survive at the poverty level for three months without any income.
Looking at the state as a whole the report found Connecticut households face a high debt load, with the third highest level of average credit card debt in the country ($2,094) and the 10th highest level of average mortgage debt in the country ($151,914). In addition to debt about 71.4 percent of residents receive health insurance through their employers, but employer-provided health insurance has dropped 4.8 percent since 2000. For rate of employer-provided health insurance for children has declined 6.1 percent.
The disparity between whites and minorities continued when researchers looked at who owned small businesses. “Overall business ownership rates are a useful measure of the number of people who have the opportunity to build wealth through business capital accumulation,” the report states. Ownership rates vary greatly by race. The business ownership rate among Hispanics, for example, is only 2.7 percent whereas the rate among American Indians is 10.7 percent.
In order to address all these disparities Connecticut Voices for Children recommends greater public investment in affordable housing and in initiatives to support first-time homeownership, greater access to health insurance to protect family financial assets in the case of medical emergencies, increased public investment in educational programs, and greater financial assistance so lower- and middle-income youth can afford to complete college without taking on excessive debt, and greater public and private financial assistance for small business development.
“Continued efforts to provide an accurate and complete picture of financial health in Connecticut will bring a needed revision to its affluent self-image: Connecticut is a state of great wealth for some, but a state of great need for many others,” the report concluded.