Major new report sheds light on assets, opportunity and financial security in Oklahoma

Monday we participated, along with other members of the Oklahoma Asset Building Coalition, in the release of the 2009-10 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, a major  report that looks at wealth, poverty, and the financial security of families in all 50 states.  The Scorecard provides data on how each state is doing on a cluster of measures in five issue areas: financial assets and income; businesses and job; housing and homeownership; health care, and education. The report also evaluates states on their success in adopting policies in each of these areas that strengthen asset development and financial security.  The Scorecard website is a treasure trove of data comparing all 50 states and offering detailed discussion of state policies; if you’re primarily interested in Oklahoma’s outcomes and policy rankings, click here. The Scorecard has also received a lot of press coverage, including articles in the Oklahoman and the Journal Record.

The Scorecard gave Oklahoma an overall grade of “C”, finding that the state is performing well in housing measures but falling behind in financial assets and health care.  Among the Scorecard’s main findings is that nearly one-quarter (22.7 percent) of Oklahoma households live in “asset poverty”, defined as lacking sufficient net worth to subsist at the poverty level for three months in the absence of income.  Over half those households – 12.0 percent of the total population – are identified as in “extreme asset poverty”, meaning they have zero or negative net worth.  These families have no cushion in the case of job loss, major medical incident, or family break-up.

Some of the other notable findings from the Scorecard:

  • Almost one-third of Oklahomans (32.2 percent) work in low-wage jobs, defined as jobs in occupations with median annual pay below 100 percent of the poverty threshold for a family of four. This is well above the national average of 22.2 percent (2006);
  • The median Oklahoma credit card borrower has credit card debt of $2,499 (3rd quarter, 2008);
  • Three in ten Oklahoma households are “unbanked”, meaning they are without checking, savings or money market accounts (2006)

With so many families now struggling just to get by during this economic downturn, the Scorecard provides a valuable reminder that assets are what’s needed to get ahead.  As OK Policy’s Executive Director Matt Guillory said in a press release:

The Scorecard provides a unique lens to identify and assess policy and program options to improve financial security for all Oklahomans. We need a commitment to develop public policies that are aimed at protecting financial assets, expanding education opportunities, and improving health care.

In the months leading up to the next legislative session, we will be working with policymakers, advocates, and public agencies to develop a strong agenda for promoting opportunity and strengthening economic security for Oklahomans. We’d love to hear your comments and ideas.


Former Executive Director David Blatt joined OK Policy in 2008 and served as its Executive Director from 2010 to 2019. He previously served as Director of Public Policy for Community Action Project of Tulsa County and as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma State Senate. He has a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University and a B.A. from the University of Alberta. David has been selected as Political Scientist of the Year by the Oklahoma Political Science Association, Local Social Justice Champion by the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice, and Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.

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