A new report finds nearly half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. The Corporation for Enterprise Development released a new study that found 44% of Americans are “liquid asset poor”, meaning they have less than three months’ worth of savings. The CFED measured that amount at $5,887 for a family of four. That is three times monthly income at the poverty level. The report also found that these families live in a persistent state of financial insecurity, unable to look beyond immediate needs and save for the future.
The report was released at a time when the economy is steadily improving. This week, the Commerce Department reported the economy grew at a healthy 3.2% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Job creation also has improved steadily in recent months, averaging 182,000 jobs a month in 2013. Friday, the Commerce Department also reported that consumer spending rose 0.4% in December, while personal income remained unchanged.
The impact of that discrepancy between spending and income was reflected in the CFED’s study. In addition to the inability to save for the future, the report also found that the recession has had a crushing impact on credit scores. 56% of American consumers now have subprime credit scores. Those families can be the target of predatory lenders when they are unable to qualify for credit.
According to the study, the groups affected by income insecurity defy some stereotypes. The majority of the families considered “liquid asset poor” are white and employed and nearly half have some college education. Yet, those with low incomes and people of color are disproportionately affected. Two out of three households of color are living without three months’ savings as are four out of five of the lowest-income households.
When it comes to regional impact, the south is the most affected. The ten states with the lowest rate of liquid assets are: Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Nevada, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana and Texas.
Read the full report here.