The latest national report on economic well-being finds that a number of U.S. families are still struggling to get on solid ground. The Federal Reserve Board took its annual temperature reading of Americans’ financial health in October 2014, and just published the results. They found that “overall, since the previous survey in 2013, individuals and their families experienced only mild improvements in their overall well-being, but they are increasingly optimistic about the trajectory of their well-being going forward.”
But that optimism is on shaky ground.
About two-thirds of U.S. families are “doing okay” or “living comfortably” financially, up by three percent from last year. However, that answer changes dramatically when you separate responses by household income. Only 45 percent of those earning less than $40,000 report “doing okay” or “living comfortably,” while 20 percent are finding it difficult to get by.
Nearly half of respondents say they either couldn’t cover an emergency expense of $400, or would have to sell something or borrow money to cover it. That share jumps to over two-thirds for respondents with household incomes of below $40,000. And about one-third of respondents went without medical care over the past year because they couldn’t afford it.
Among those who report saving every year, adults with household incomes under $40,000 are most likely to save for unexpected expenses. On the other hand, those with incomes over $100,000 are most likely to save for retirement. Wealthy adults are comfortable enough to plan for a comfortable future further down the road, while low-income adults have to stay focused on the financial present.
“Although the U.S. economy is recovering from the Great Recession and most individuals appear to be generally stable financially, there are clearly segments of the population who are still struggling on one or more dimensions.”
Click here to read the full report.