According to data on “financial fragility” from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking, Americans have been getting a little better at keeping emergency funds in the bank. From 2013 to 2020, the percentage of American adults reporting that they have enough rainy-day funds to cover three-months of expenses has risen from 39% to 55%:
Last year’s round of direct coronavirus relief payments to individuals briefly boosted personal reserves. In July 2020, the percentage of Americans who said they’d have trouble covering a surprise $400 expense dropped to 30%, down from 36% in April. We ate up those temporary reserves and brought the percentage of financially fragile Americans back to 36% for the year, but that still beat the 50% we were at in 2013.
Trish Ladner and Kristi Noem probably want to ban us from talking about this next chart, but the Federal Reserve notes that last year’s coronavirus relief payments didn’t erase the drastic difference in financial fragility between comfy white folks and the Black and Latino neighbors whom we continue to box out of economic opportunities with systemic discrimination:
Overall household finances show a similar racial gap, with average real family wealth, the value of all household cash and the stuff we own, for Black and Latino families in America in 2020 Q4 at about 20% of the average real wealth for white families:
We’ve been getting better at keeping some emergency cash in the bank; now we’ve got to get better and opening jobs for minorities so they can enjoy similar household financial cushions.