Nearly half of US adults can’t cover an unplanned $400 expense: Fed

While the overall economic picture is improving, nearly half of all U.S. adults would not be able to cover an unexpected expense valued at $400 or more.

According to the Federal Reserve’s annual report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households released this week, 40% of Americans would either be unable to cover, or would have to sell something in order to pay, $400 for something they had not anticipated spending on. That’s actually an improvement over 2013, when that figure was around 50%.

The Fed also found that about one in five adults are not able to pay their current month’s bills in full, while 25% of adults forewent necessary medical care last year because they were unable to afford it.

Many adults also felt behind in their retirement planning, with less than two-fifths of non-retired survey respondents saying they felt their savings were on track. About 25% said they had no retirement savings or pension plan at all.

However, overall economic well-being among Americans is on the rise. Seventy-four percent of adults said they were living “okay” or “comfortably” in 2017, under President Donald Trump’s tenure, an increase of four percentage points over 2016 and 10 percentage points since 2013. Lower-income households reported the strongest rates of improvement.

The Fed noted that there have been signs of “growth and improvement” marked with “remaining pockets of distress and fragility.”