Two years after Americans were forced into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey of 1,600 working adults found 30% of people had no emergency savings set aside for unforeseen expenses. This number would likely be higher if the 40% of the population who are currently unemployed were included.
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The survey, which was conducted by the Bipartisan Policy Center in conjunction with the Funding Our Future coalition and Morning Consult, showed that among people with household incomes below $50,000, 45% have no emergency savings. That number drops to 26% for those with household incomes between $50,000 and $100,000. In contrast, by October 2021, Americans had saved about 36% of their stimulus money.
Surprisingly, 12% of those with incomes over $100,000 also don’t save for emergencies, showing that financial insecurity occurs even among middle-income working adults. However, some of those who said “no” to the idea of having emergency savings in a checking or savings account also indicated that they had money in a retirement account to which they could access in case of emergency.
About a third of working adults said they felt “somewhat” or “very” uncomfortable about their ability to afford an emergency expense of $400 without using a credit card or tapping into their retirement account, while 8% said they could not afford the cost. .
Digging deeper, the survey found that 22% of Americans who have emergency savings have less than $250 in their checking or savings account. Optimistically, 35% of American workers have $1,500 or more in savings. However, this may not be enough to pay household expenses. Thirty percent said they could cover a month or less of expenses if they lost their job, while only 15% said they could cover a year or more.
Another important finding is that 42% of American workers feel “somewhat” or “very” financially insecure. And it’s not just that they’re unprepared for an emergency. The survey showed that 39% of working adults struggled to cover personal expenses such as housing, utility bills and groceries in the past 12 months. As a result, 14% of respondents said they had borrowed money from their retirement account or withdrawn funds from their retirement savings to cover these costs.
With interest rates rising and the stock market falling, borrowing for retirement could leave people strapped for cash as they approach retirement. Likewise, using credit cards to pay for emergencies could leave them with more bills than you can afford.
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To combat financial insecurity, the BPC survey introduced the idea of employer-sponsored emergency savings accounts, with money taken directly from employees’ paychecks. This possible solution was popular with American workers, with 61% saying they would contribute to this type of savings account with their 401(k) or other workplace retirement account.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Without the financial security of stimulus checks, Americans can’t afford an emergency