Wednesday, February 20, 2019

32% of Americans Are Financially Insecure

Despite the robust job market, many Americans are financially insecure—a substantial 32 percent of the nation's adults in 2017, according to the Urban Institute. This estimate comes from the The Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey, a new effort by the Urban Institute to measure financial insecurity.

The Urban Institute classified survey respondents as financially insecure if they had experienced at least one of three things in the past 12 months: 1) they were not sure they could come up with $400 for an unexpected expense; 2) they had missed a credit card or nonmortgage loan payment; and/or 3) they had been contacted by a debt collector. Fully 32 percent of adults were found to be financially insecure—22 percent were not confident they could come up with $400 for an unexpected expense, 14 percent had been contacted by debt collector; and 13 percent missed a loan payment. Here are some of the demographics of financial insecurity...
  • Financial insecurity does not vary much by age, with 27 percent of 50-to-64-year-olds, 34 percent of 35-to-49-year-olds, and 36 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds financially insecure. 
  • Race has more of an impact on financial insecurity, with Blacks most likely to be insecure (52 percent), followed by Hispanics (40 percent), and non-Hispanic Whites (27 percent). 
  • Education matters even more than race. Fully 51 percent of people with less than a high school education and 38 percent of those with a high school diploma/some college were financially insecure. Among college graduates, the figure was a much smaller 17 percent. 
  • Income matters a bit more than education. Among people with household incomes below poverty level, 58 percent were financially insecure. Among those with household incomes above 400 percent of poverty level, the figure was 14 percent. 
Despite the improving economy of 2017, concludes the Urban Institute, "many Americans are facing financial distress and struggle to keep up with their bills and cover unexpected expenses."

Source: Urban Institute, Financial Distress among American Families: Evidence from the Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey

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