In addition to covering basic expenses, families and individuals need financial stability to avoid debt, build savings and prepare for unanticipated expenses.
When people are able to find decent jobs, provide for their families and absorb the financial bumps in the road we all face, they and their children are more likely to enjoy healthy lives and succeed in school. Everyone benefits, because financially stable individuals and families lead to a more competitive workforce and a stronger community.
However, financial stability can be thrown off by sudden job loss, health crisis or other unanticipated expense. That’s why it’s important for everyone to continue making smart financial decisions – things like building savings and managing credit responsibly – throughout their lives.
Financial Well-being: By the Numbers
A job loss, health crisis or other unanticipated expense can threaten the financial stability of a household. The asset poverty rate measures the percentage of households without sufficient net worth to provide for basic needs and live above the poverty level for three months in the absence of income. In many ways, asset poverty is more instructive and important than the traditional poverty rate. This is because it factors in households who are just one job loss or health issue away from serious financial crisis.
The threshold used to determine the asset poverty rate varies by family size. A family of four with net worth less than $6,150 in 2017 is asset poor.
In 2015, the Richmond MSA’s asset poverty rate was 24.4%.
According to the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings Institution, the average full-time worker without a bank account may spend $40,000 in fees over the course of his or her lifetime just to cash paychecks. Households without an account do not have a safe place to store their money, leaving them open to risks of loss from theft or natural disaster.
When combined with the rate of underbanked households (households that have a bank account but have used alternative financial services—such as payday loans—in the past year), this measure paints a broad picture of households in our region that are financially under-served.
- In 2015, the percent of unbanked households in our region ranged from 18.8% in Petersburg to 3.0% in New Kent.
- In 2015, the percent of underbanked households in our region ranged from 25.4% in Petersburg to 14.2% in Goochland and Powhatan.
International, national and local economic trends influence layoffs, plant closings and shifts in industries that impact many households on a local level. The percent of individuals experiencing unemployment tells us about the general economic stability of our community.
In 2016, our region’s unemployment rate was 4.0% (24,475 adults).
*Not seasonally adjusted
Because poverty thresholds are only about 30% of the region’s median income, a more comprehensive picture of economic vulnerability includes individuals in households with incomes below 200% of poverty thresholds (or twice the poverty thresholds).
From 2011-2015, 27.3% of our region’s population (297,152 people) lived below 200% of poverty thresholds.
Because poverty thresholds are only about 30% of the region’s median income, a more comprehensive picture of economic vulnerability includes individuals in households with incomes below 200% of poverty thresholds (or twice the poverty thresholds). Children living in low income households are at greater risk of not being ready for kindergarten, reading on grade level or graduating high school on time.
From 2011-2015, 34.7% of children in our region (85,704 kids) lived below 200% of poverty thresholds.
If housing costs exceed 30% of the household income, than these costs are likely to negatively impact the household’s ability to meet other basic needs such as food, healthcare and childcare.
- From 2011-2015, 25.0% of owners in our region spent 30% or more of their income on housing.
- From 2011-2015, 51.0% of renters in our region spent 30% or more of their income on housing.
What We Do
At United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg, we outline key steps on the journey to financial well-being and provide needed supports along the way.
- Financial Crisis. We help households address immediate needs in times of crisis by providing short term assistance on essential items like food, rent, utilities and prescriptions.
- Financial Capability. We provide education that enables individuals and families to make informed financial choices and manage their money and credit wisely.
- Financial Resilience. We ensure households are knowledgeable and equipped to handle life transitions and financial stress by building savings, managing credit responsibly and developing healthy relationships with financial institutions.
Spotlight on Success
- Our MetroCASH program provides free income tax preparation for households with income of $54,000 or less. Since 2002, we have worked with local social service, nonprofit, faith-based, business and government organizations to strengthen the financial independence of working families in our region. Click here to learn more about MetroCASH.
- We lead the THRIVE Collaborative, a new Richmond-area partnership that supports efforts to increase incomes, build savings and assets, and develop financial literacy among local households – and thereby help them achieve financial stability.
How You Can Help
- Donate. Give to United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. Let us know you want your gift to help increase the financial well-being of everyone in the region.
- Volunteer. Want to lend your time to supporting these efforts? Send us an email and we will help match you with the right opportunity. Or visit our Events page to see our existing opportunities.