An unexpected medical bill or a dip in the stock market would be all it took to send two-thirds of Americans into financial distress, according to a new poll.
Even though there are signs that the economy has improved in recent years, a lot of people are not feeling that the recovery has reached them,” said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. "There is evidence of optimism among the more affluent, but two-thirds of Americans would have trouble immediately paying an unanticipated bill of $1,000."
"The more we learn about the balance sheets of Americans, it becomes quite alarming," Caroline Ratcliffe, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute focusing on poverty and emergency savings issues.
Seventy-five percent of people in households making less than $50,000 a year would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill. But when income rose to between $50,000 and $100,000, the difficulty decreased only modestly to 67 percent. Even for the country's wealthiest 20 percent — households making more than $100,000 a year — 38 percent say they would have at least some difficulty coming up with $1,000.
Most employed Americans have not seen a salary increase in recent years; less than a third have confidence they would be able to find equal or better employment if they left their current position; and few workers expect to have enough savings to retire on their own timetable.
"Despite their skills and work ethic," the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said, "most American workers and families are so financially strapped from increasing income inequality that their paychecks barely cover basic necessities."