According to a study released Monday from Bankrate.com, nearly half of all Americans (49%) do not have enough money stashed away to cover three months of expenses, and only one fourth have enough to last six months, the amount recommended by most economists as an emergency fund. Perhaps the most alarming, according to the survey, the percentage of consumers with no savings whatsoever has surged from 24 percent a year ago to 28 percent. The report was based on a survey conducted among 1,000 adults across the nation.
Part of the cause for the declining savings among Americans is that wages have been largely stagnant, while inflation has continued to raise the cost of living. As a result, many Americans have had to dip into money that might have otherwise been earmarked for savings. Others have even had to dip into existing savings, which explains the rise in those without any savings at all. Continued high unemployment has also played a major role in the depletion of Americans' savings, as millions have been unemployed for months or even years, and have watched their savings disappear as they struggle to find work.
Surprisingly, while the savings situation in the US has gotten slightly worse over the past year, it has actually improved over the last few years, as only 39 percent of Americans had enough savings to last three months in 2006, prior to the collapse of the housing market and ensuing recession. This stat clearly demonstrates the lesson learned by the American public about savings as millions lost homes and businesses and struggled to get by during the worst economic downturn in the US since the 1930s, Great Depression.