WASHINGTON — Nearly six years after the Great Recession, a clear majority of American families say they feel unprepared for a financial emergency.
The Pew Charitable Trusts' poll of 7,000 U.S. households finds that 57 percent don't consider themselves ready for a sudden financial setback, 55 percent say they break even or spend more than they make each month, and a third have no savings.
"Despite a steady economic recovery, many Americans continue to feel vulnerable," says Erin Currier, director of Pew's financial security and mobility project.
The survey does note signs of improvement: 56 percent rate their own financial situation as positive, up from 55 percent on the eve of the recession in 2007; 27 percent give the economy a positive grade, equal to pre-recession levels.
Still, 51 percent considered themselves financially secure. Predictably, those with higher incomes and more education were more likely to be confident about their finances. But even among those with annual incomes of $100,000 or more, 22 percent felt insecure, 10 percent had no savings and 12 percent reported having less than $10,000 in wealth (not including housing).
Overall, 56 percent reported worrying about their finances during the previous year. Of those, 83 percent worried about lack of savings, 71 percent about covering regular expenses, 69 percent about saving for retirement.
A key reason so many felt vulnerable: 82 percent of households overall reported suffering an economic shock — such as a hospital visit, the loss of a spouse or major car or house repairs — over the previous year.
Pew surveyed 7,845 households by computer from Nov. 6 to Dec. 3, 2014.