4 in 10 Americans haven’t got $400 for an emergency

4 in 10 Americans haven’t got $400 for an emergency
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If your refrigerator stopped working, or you were in an accident and had to cover the deductible, or you had to buy an airplane ticket right away to visit a sick relative, could you do it? According to a new report from the Federal Reserve Board, almost half of all Americans, 4 in 10, can’t cover an unexpected $400 expense.

They say they’d have to borrow the money or sell something to get it.

The good news. That’s fewer Americans than the last time the study was done in 2013.

Overall, the financial state of American households has been improving over the past five years, according to the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households report. It shows that in 2017, 74% of adults reported feeling at least “okay” financially, an increase of 10 percentage points from the first survey four years earlier.

“This year’s survey finds that rising levels of employment are translating into improved financial conditions for many but not all Americans,” Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard said in a press release, “with one-third now reporting they are living comfortably and another 40% reporting they are doing okay financially.”

Still, many are struggling. Notable differences remain across race, ethnicity, education levels and geography. The report shows the hardest times are for people working to repay college loans, cover emergency expenses and manage retirement savings.

For the first time the report also looked at the opioid epidemic, reporting that one out of five adults personally knows someone with an addiction to painkillers. Exposure does not vary much by education level or by local economic conditions.

The survey of 12,000 people examined their income, employment, unexpected expenses, banking and credit, housing, education, and retirement planning in November and December 2017.

Also concerning are the 25% of Americans with no retirement savings whatsoever, according to the report.

Some of this may be due to the lack of employer-sponsored retirement plans, as well as people piecing together several part-time jobs, which may not offer benefits.

The report found that while most workers are satisfied with the wages and benefits from their current job and are optimistic about their future job opportunities, challenges remain, particularly with irregular job schedules.