Nevadans continue to struggle with their personal finances

Nevadans’ personal finances improved little over the past year and remain among the worst in the country, a new report found.

Some 55.6 percent of households statewide are in a “persistent state of financial insecurity,” as they have little or no savings to cover basic expenses in the event of a job loss, health crisis or other emergency, according to the nonprofit Corporation for Enterprise Development.

A family of four would need about $5,900 in savings to carry them for three months, but more and more middle-class homes in Nevada “fall short of that amount,” the organization said.

The advocacy group for lower-income Americans ranked Nevada 50th out of all states and the District of Columbia for its residents’ financial security. Vermont was No. 1 and Mississippi placed last.

Meanwhile, state policies are “doing little” to improve Nevadans’ financial security, said CFED, which ranked the Silver State 34th in the country for adopting legislation that could boost people’s finances, health care and education.

Last year, CFED ranked Nevada worst in the country for financial security, saying a majority of residents were living “on the edge of financial disaster,” as 62.5 percent of state households had less than three months of savings to rely on.

CFED, based in Washington, analyzed five main categories for its 2014 “Assets & Opportunity Scorecard.” Overall, it gave Nevada an ‘F’ in financial assets and income, a ‘D’ in businesses and jobs, an ‘F’ in housing and homeownership, a ‘D’ in health care and a ‘D’ in education.

The report is just the latest to place Nevada at or near the bottom in a survey of financial or educational strength, and the findings aren’t surprising, said Steve Brown, director of UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

Nevada, with one of the biggest real estate bubbles and busts last decade, was among the hardest-hit states during the recession. Also, its tourism-dependent economy is slowly recovering.

Nevada’s unemployment rate last month, 8.8 percent, was second highest in the country, according to federal data.

“We have a long ways to go,” Brown said.

At least some data in CFED’s report are outdated, but according to the group, Nevada has some of the highest rates of bankruptcies (6.2 per 1,000 people), delinquent home loans (4.2 percent) and uninsured residents (25.2 percent), as well as some of the lowest rates of high school graduation (63 percent) and early childhood education enrollment (10.6 percent).

Not everything is bleak. Nevada has the eighth-highest rate of employers offering health insurance (56 percent) and the lowest rate of college graduates carrying debt (41 percent).

However, despite having fewer people who owe money for college, Nevada has the ninth-highest student loan default rate in the country (16.3 percent), CFED found.

Altogether, the findings reflect Nevada’s sluggish, casino-driven economy, which relies heavily on low-skill, low-wage workers, RCG Economics principal John Restrepo said.

“It’s not shocking,” he said of the report.