As Nevada’s fifth-largest county by population, Elko often lands somewhere in the middle of the list when it comes to ranking various conditions. This week we made the top of the list in an important category: financial health.
SmartAsset, a New York financial technology company, did a study analyzing debt, bankruptcy, poverty and unemployment in counties across the country. Los Alamos, New Mexico was No. 1 in the nation, but Elko County led the pack among the nine Nevada counties that were included in the survey (the other eight reportedly had insufficient data).
The news was much better than a report from September that ranked us as the No. 1 county in Nevada when it comes to burglaries per capita. A home security and safety website called YourLocalSecurity released the list, which was compiled by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Education in 2015.
“Hopefully, yours wasn’t among the households burgled that year,” the company commented, listing Bastrop, Louisiana as the most burglarized city in the U.S. with 429 per 10,000 people. Elko was labeled the most burgled city in Nevada, however, with 120 per 10,000 people.
Perhaps Elko’s financially healthy situation makes it a target for crime.
The SmartAsset report gave us a total financial score of 84.8, which is only slightly higher than Humboldt County but well above the state’s most populous county – Clark – which scored 58.7.
Some of the information in the report is obviously outdated. For example, it lists Elko with an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent while the latest figure from state officials is 3.4 percent. That is among the lowest in the state but not the very lowest, which is Eureka County at 2.9 percent.
The SmartAsset report gives us a good perspective on what “financial health” is considered to mean.
One of the key metrics is bankruptcies. Elko had the lowest rating at 1.09, compared with a high of 3.25 in Clark County.
Another category showing a big difference between counties was the poverty rate. Elko is listed at 9.9 percent, just above Humboldt and Douglas counties at 9.4 percent. Clark County was at 15.4 percent but not as high as Carson City with 16.4 percent or Nye with 17.5 percent.
Debt as a percentage of income was analyzed as well. Elko scored low with 1.23 percent, but not as low as Nye County with 1.15 percent. The highest on the list was Clark County at 1.69 percent.
What do all of these numbers mean for the average person?
“A healthy mind and a healthy body are important, but a healthy wallet is too,” said the SmartAsset release.
In fact, there is growing evidence that they are related. A Washington University study published in the journal Psychological Science found that the decision to contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan predicted whether an individual acted to correct poor physical-health indicators revealed during an employer-sponsored health examination.
“In other words, people who value their future selves enough to regularly put money aside in a nest egg are more likely to also make healthier choices in the present to improve their health in the future,” stated an article at SeniorLifestyle.com.
The correlation is not exact, of course. Elko County is just slightly above the middle of the pack when it comes to physical health factors, according to a 2017 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Still, we are happy to take any good numbers that the rest of the country wants to throw at us.
It’s clear that Elko County is a nice place to live if you want to be physically and financially healthy, and don’t mind putting some of your money into a good home-security system.