savings

Nearly 3 in 10 have no savings for an emergency

June 25, 2012 at 7:33 AM ET

Most Americans don't have enough money saved for a rainy day -- or even a cloudy one.

A new survey from Bankrate.com finds that 28 percent of Americans haven’t saved any money at all to cover their bills in case of a job loss or other disaster.

Only 25 percent of people had six months of savings -- the usual amount financial experts say you should have socked away for an emergency.

And six months might not even be enough given how long it’s taken people to find a job these days. The median duration of unemployment was 20 weeks in May, or about five months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For older Americans it can be much longer.

Another 21 percent said they had some money saved up, but not even enough to cover three months of expenses.

Taken together with those who hadn’t saved at all, 49 percent of people couldn’t go three months without a paycheck. That’s up from 46 percent last year.

Still, the figure is better than six years ago, when a similar Bankrate.com survey found that 61 percent didn’t have three months of living expenses saved up.

The recession and the weak recovery have been a wake-up call for many Americans, sparking an increase in savings and a decline in debt. But recently there have been signs that people are taking on debt again for things like cars and education, and relying more on their credit cards.

It’s not clear whether that’s by choice or necessity, although Bankrate research did show that about one-third of those surveyed were less comfortable with their savings than they were a year ago.

The survey was based on telephone interviews with 1,000 Americans.

Related:

Gen X may have taken biggest hit in economic downturn

Long-term unemployed losing benefits as job picture improves

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