Report: Nearly half of Americans live paycheck to paycheck
A new report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development shows that 44% of Americans are "liquid asset poor" and are forced to live from paycheck to paycheck.
The economic picture is looking brighter these days. The federal government announced Thursday that economic growth had picked up to its fastest pace in two years, while employment growth over the past five months has averaged a healthy 185,000 new jobs. But as evidenced by a report out Thursday from the Corporation for Enterprise Development, nearly half of Americans are living in a state of "persistent economic insecurity," that makes it "difficult to look beyond immediate needs and plan for a more secure future."
In other words, too many of us are living paycheck to paycheck. The CFED calls these folks "liquid asset poor," and its report finds that 44% of Americans are living with less than $5,887 in savings for a family of four. The plight of these folks is compounded by the fact that the recession ravaged many Americans' credit scores to the point that now 56% percent of us have subprime credit. That means that if emergencies arise, many Americans are forced to resort to high-interest debt from credit cards or payday loans.
And this financial insecurity isn't just affected the lower classes. According to the CFED, one-quarter of middle-class households also fall into the category of "liquid asset poor." Geographically, most of the economically insecure are clustered in the South and West, with Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Nevada, and Arkansas being the states with the highest percentage of financially insecure.
My unscientific observations: Some people don't know how to save and are incapable of putting off major purchases until they have their financial legs under them. While our consumer debt has declined during this recession, it is still far too high. Too much of our lifestyles are financed with high interest credit cards.
How many of those who are currently financially insecure would be better off if they drastically reduced their credit card purchases? I don't have an answer but I suspect it would be a significant number.
I would also hesitate to blame politicians for this. This is in the area of personal responsibility - outside the political sphere. Until more of us learn the (shrinking) value of a dollar, and resist the temptation for instant gratification by curtailing impulse buys, economic insecurity will continue to be a way of life in America.