Oklahoma dropped three spots to 40th in annual family financial security rankings.
The state is down six spots in two years on the broad scorecard of economic measures. Oklahoma does maintain top-20 rankings in the housing and business categories, but there are trouble spots within those. For example, Oklahoma bests just 10 states when it comes to the proportion of low-wage jobs.
"Which means that at the median, these jobs pay below the poverty threshold for a family of four," said Prosperity Now's Kasey Wiedrich.
Wiedrich said low-wage jobs contribute to growing inequality and racial wealth disparities. In Oklahoma, nonwhite families are almost twice as white families to have zero or negative net worth.
The scorecard also looks at dozens of policy moves Prosperity Now advocates for. State and Local Policy Director Solana Rice said Oklahoma is behind when it comes to policies that would help low-income households do more than live paycheck to paycheck. One example is Oklahoma’s strictest-in-the-nation asset limit for cash benefits through Temporary Aid for Needy Families.
"Several studies show that eliminating these asset limits does not necessarily increase costs or caseloads for states. When you look at it, it’s one of those policies that is misguided and really ignoring the realities that most low-income people are facing," Rice said.
Other suggested policy steps include adopting payday loan protections and providing a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit.
"Despite the images of welfare queens and people with iPhones and fancy shoes, people with limited incomes do manage to save, even if in small amounts, and we should be encouraging that rather than putting up barriers at every turn," Rice said.