Economic Insecurity

Thirty-one percent of non-retired respondents report that they have no retirement savings or pension at all, including 27 percent of non-retired respondents age 60 or older.
Forty-nine percent of adults with self-directed retirement accounts are either “not confident” or only “slightly confident” in their ability to make the right investment decisions. [pp. 2-3]
To determine individuals’ preparedness for a smaller-scale financial disruption, respondents are asked how they would pay for a hypothetical emergency expense that would cost $400. Just over half (54 percent) report that they could fairly easily handle such an expense, paying for it entirely using cash, money currently in their checking/savings account, or on a credit card that they would pay in full at their next statement (collectively referred to here as “cash or its functional equivalent”). The remaining 46 percent indicate that such an expense would be more challenging to handle and that they either could not pay the expense or would borrow or sell something to do so.
Specifically, among respondents who would not pay the expense in-full using cash or its functional equivalent, 38 percent would use a credit card that they pay off over time and 31 percent simply could not cover the expense. Over a quarter would borrow from friends or family, and smaller fractions would either sell something, use a payday loan, bank overdraft, or bank loan (figure 11). [p. 22]
- Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015, May 2016

“This is the first time we’re seeing a mobilization that’s coming from the social networks, and not led by the political parties or the unions,” said Jean-Yves Camus, a political scientist who heads the Observatory on Political Radicalism.

“This is really a populist-type movement, and it’s an extremely strong protest against elite France,” he added. “It’s a protest against tax policy that’s considered confiscatory. And there’s been an undeniable drop in the buying power not just of the workers, but of the middle class.” ...
“We’re hungry and we’re fed up,” said Jessica Monnier, 28, who works in a watch factory in the French Alps. She earns €970 a month, and said: “Once I pay my bills, I don’t have enough to eat. We’re just hungry, that’s all.”
- Adam Nossiter, Tear Gas and Water Cannons in Paris as Grass-Roots Protest Takes Aim at Macron, NYT, Nov. 24, 2018

Look around, and you can see the lingering effects of the financial crisis just about everywhere — everywhere, that is, except in the most commonly cited economic statistics. ...
As a technical matter, the current batch of official numbers are perfectly accurate. They also describe some real and important aspects of the American economy. The trouble is that a handful of statistics dominate the public conversation about the economy despite the fact that they provide a misleading portrait of people’s lives. Even worse, the statistics have become more misleading over time.
- David Leonhardt, We’re Measuring the Economy All Wrong, NYT, Sept. 14, 2018

Nancy goodspeed Strafford, NH  [7/5/2019]
I guess people making $400K have some struggles, but it’s hard to sympathize when you see other people working hard & getting nowhere because of college debt, child care expense, high cost of housing, health care expense. I would like to have seen more about people making less than $100K, single parents, people working multiple jobs to put food on the table, people who have nothing set aside for retirement. I know a lot of people like this who are honest, work hard, and have no sense of security at all. They are getting very tired.
This is fixable of course, but that would mean making the rich pay their fair share of taxes.
- Comment on E. Tammy Kim and Jyoti Thottam, What Middle-Class Families Want Politicians to Know, NYT, July 5, 2019

We were surprised — after reading every single one of the more than 500 responses — to find that the sense of insecurity and instability was pervasive, even among families with very high incomes. Those who responded were forthright about this — many said they were aware that their incomes appear to be very high, and yet, because of the high cost of housing, college tuition, student debt, child care and elder care, the stability and security of middle-class life seemed out of reach, no matter how much they earned or saved.
- The New York Times, Can a Middle-Class Family Earn $200,000? Yes, Our Editor Explains, July 9, 2019

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