Nearly 1 in 3 Americans Aren’t Saving Any Money

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans Aren’t Saving Any Money (Wall Street Journal, Feb 24, 2014):

Fewer U.S. households are stashing away cash today than during the early stages of the economic recovery.

A new survey released Monday found that only 68% of all Americans are spending less than they earn and saving the difference. That’s down from 73% in 2010, the first full calendar year after the recession ended.

Some 64% of households have emergency funds, down from 71% in 2010. The survey found 76% are reducing their consumer debt, down from 79% in 2010.

A divide remains along incomes. More than 80% of households earning over $50,000 spend less than they earn. Only about 69% of households making less than $50,000 are able to save.

The pattern holds for reducing consumer debt and maintaining an emergency fund. Nearly 90% of households in the top half are reducing their debt or are debt free, and more than 80% have a “sufficient” emergency fund.

Only 78% of those making less than $50,000 are reducing their debt or debt free, while 63% are content with their emergency fund.

Median household income in the United States in 2012 was $51,017, according to Census Department data.

“The group hit the hardest by the Great Recession and its aftereffects have been moderate income households,” said Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America. The federation and the American Savings Education Council released the results Monday as part of their campaign to encourage savings.

Separate data from the Commerce Department back up the survey data. The personal saving rate—savings as a share of disposable income—was only 3.9% in December 2013, down from 5.8% at the end of 2010.

Americans have been spending more but incomes have been stagnant, leading to the lower saving rate.

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