Arizona Gets Best-Ever Ranking in National Survey of Prosperity, but Still Below Average

Article originally posted on AZ Central on February 6, 2018

636535241361144845-590245583.jpgArizona made progress over the past year and achieved its best overall ranking in an annual national study of household financial wellness conducted by the progressive Prosperity Now organization.

But economic improvement at the national level isn’t broadly shared by lower-income Arizonans, and the report puts the state among the bottom third nationally, at 36th among the states.

Among the good news: Arizona’s unemployment rate is at an 11-year low, the poverty rate has decreased slightly and the housing market is solid, with some of the nation’s lowest rates of foreclosures and delinquent mortgages.

But widening income inequality, underemployment, education deficiencies and a relatively low rate of health-insurance coverage pinpointed some of the problems.

Arizona’s overall ranking marked an improvement from 40th place last year and represents Arizona’s best showing in the annual study, which began in 2012.

The study evaluates the 50 states and Washington, D.C., in five areas: financial assets/income, businesses/jobs, homeownership/housing, health care and education.

Here’s how Arizona fared:

Homeownership and housing: 16th place

Laveen's 85339 ZIP code ranked No. 11 on Attom Data

Arizona’s highest ranking among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., was in this category, helped by the nation’s third-lowest rate of foreclosures and eighth-lowest rate of delinquent mortgages.

Among negatives, a large percentage of Arizona homeowners have high-cost mortgages, which often reflect low credit scores.

Assets and income: 31st place

Arizona next-best showing was in financial assets/income, with relatively high levels of emergency savings but poor results in terms of overall poverty and the proportion of seriously delinquent borrowers.

One notable finding was that the richest 20 percent of Arizona households earn 4.6 times more than the poorest 20 percent, a relatively wide income-inequality gap.

Education: 39th place

Relatively good marks for student-loan debts and and college degrees by income in Arizona were offset by poor showings in terms of high school graduation rates, college degrees by race and early childhood education enrollments, among other factors.