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When it's time to tap emergency savings, 29 percent of Americans have none

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

June 29, 2015


WASHINGTON — Nearly 3 in 10 Americans have no emergency savings, the highest level in five years, according to a survey released Tuesday.

Although wages have been rising, 29 percent of adults have nothing to tap in the case of a job loss or other financial difficulty, the survey by Bankrate.com found.

The figure, up from 26 percent last year, is the highest level since the financial information website began asking the question in 2011 in the wake of the Great Recession.

And 65 percent of respondents don’t have a sufficient emergency cushion, defined as enough savings to pay for at least six months of expenses, the survey said.

"These results are further evidence that Americans remain woefully under-saved for unplanned expenses," said Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.

"Nothing helps you sleep better at night than knowing you have money tucked away for a rainy day," he said.

Fewer Americans know that feeling.

Just 22 percent of the 1,000 respondents said they had enough savings to pay for at least six months of expenses, also the lowest level in five years.

About 15 percent have enough to cover three to five months, and 21 percent said they had some savings but not enough for three months of expenses.

The decline in the percentage of Americans with emergency savings came despite larger paychecks.

In the 12 months through May 31, wages grew by 2.3 percent, about a percentage point greater than the pace of core inflation.

Still, Americans overall feel better about their financial situation this year, the survey found.

Bankrate’s financial security index, which measures respondents’ views on a variety of issues, has improved in 2015 and has been in positive territory for 13 straight months through June.