May 23, 2019

4 in 10 Americans have trouble spending $400 in an emergency

The Federal Reserve released new data from 2018 on Thursday that shows 40% of Americans would struggle to handle a $400 emergency charge.

The big picture: The data shows that financial disparity and financial resilience for people of color are pressing issues. One-third of black and Hispanic Americans don't feel like they are doing "at least OK" financially — more than the 22% of white Americans who feel the same.

By the numbers:

  • Rural Americans feel slightly less secure financially than urban Americans, at a 29% to 25% difference.
  • The 61% of Americans who say they could cover a $400 emergency charge would use cash, savings or a credit card paid off by the next statement. Using a credit card is the most common approach for Americans who would have trouble spending $400 to cover an emergency.
  • 21% of Americans with income between $40,000 and $100,000 don't feel they are doing "at least OK" financially.

The silver lining: This latest report indicates that the data on financial resilience is "similar to, or slightly better than" data collected by the Federal Reserve in 2017.

Go deeper: See the most distressed communities in America

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