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Economic Insecurity

As rising income inequality and declining middle-class opportunity occupy the center of the national debate, new research demonstrates the breadth, persistence, and growing reach of American economic insecurity. The Economic Security Index (ESI), a newly revised index providing a unified measure of the economic insecurity of American families, shows that economic insecurity for American families in 2009 and 2010 was greater than at any time on record, with approximately one in five Americans experiencing a 25 percent or greater decline in available household income.

"Economic Insecurity and the Great Recession" revises the original ESI by adding more recent data, as well as information about how different regions of the U.S. have been affected by economic insecurity.

Economic Insecurity Across the American States: New State Estimates from the Economic Security Index (this link will take you to the ESI web site)
Jacob S. Hacker, Gregory A. Huber, Austin Nichols, Philipp Rehm, Stuart Craig

Nearly every state has experienced record economic insecurity recently, measured by the Economic Security Index (ESI) as the percentage of people losing more than a quarter of their available income from one year to the next without sufficient liquid wealth to offset the loss. More than one in six in New Hampshire (lowest), and nearly one in four in Mississippi (highest), suffered large losses between 2009 and 2010. All states experienced a substantial rise in insecurity between 1986 and 2010. The insecurity rank of states changed little over the 1986-2010 period--state differences in insecurity appear to be persistent. [Interactive exhibits]

Economic Insecurity and the Great Recession (this link will take you to the ESI web site)
Jacob S. Hacker, Gregory A. Huber, Austin Nichols, Philipp Rehm, Stuart Craig

This report updates and extends the Economic Security Index (ESI), an integrated measure of the share of Americans who experience large declines in their “available household income”—their household income after paying for medical care and servicing their financial debts. Americans are still coming to grips with the effects of the “Great Recession” on their economic security. Despite a number of valuable examinations of the downturn’s effects, surprisingly little is known about the dynamic experiences of Americans as their economic standing has changed from year to year amid a turbulent economy. This report fills this gap.


Related work on the increasing level of economic insecurity

America Insecure: Changes in the Economic Security of American Families (Acs and Nichols, 2010)

Risk and Recovery: Documenting the Changing Risks to Family Incomes (Acs, Loprest, and Nichols, 2009)

"Are You Better Off? Changing Risks and Rewards in Modern America" (Event)

Income Inequality, Volatility, and Mobility Risk (Nichols 2008)

Measuring Trends in Income Variability (Nichols and Zimmerman, 2008)

Trends in Income Inequality, Volatility, and Mobility Risk (Nichols, 2008)

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