Survey: Nearly Half of America Seen Living on the Economic Edge
By: John Morgan
February 1, 2013
Almost half of U.S. households are living on the brink of financial disaster, with almost no savings to rely on in the event of job loss, health crisis or other emergency, according to an annual survey of Americans' ability to save money.
The new survey from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), a Washington D.C.-based non-profit, found 43.9 percent of U.S. households lack savings to cover three months' worth of basic expenses.
"In order to cope with the recession's continued impact, these families have had to prioritize today's expenses over tomorrow's goals," said Andrea Levere, president of CFED.
The percentage of those "liquid asset poor" families was up nearly 1 percentage point from the 2012 survey. By definition, those families lack the ability to invest in long-term assets such as saving for college, buying a home or setting aside money for retirement.
The report also found that 26 percent of households are "net worth asset poor," meaning the paltry assets they do have -- such as a savings account or a car ' are "overwhelmed by their debts."
The CFED said there were significant differences between states in the percentages of residents with less than three months' savings, ranging from a high of 64 percent in Alabama to a low of 24 percent in Minnesota.
In general, states in the Southeast and Southwest fared the worst in the survey.
In addition, 30.8 percent of households lacked a savings account, 56.4 percent of U.S. consumers had subprime credit scores and two out of every three college graduates has student loan debt, with the average amount being $26,660.
Levere told The Huffington Post that the recession has actually raised awareness of the plight of Americans in precarious financial conditions.
"It's really a mainstream issue," Levere said. "The good piece about this recession is that this issue isn't just about 'those poor people,' it's about half of us."
Justin King, federal policy liaison for the New America Foundation, told The Post, "The big economic trends of the last 20, 30 years are stagnating wages."
King said that while U.S. household expenses have gone up, paychecks have not kept pace.
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