By Natasha Bach
January 29, 2019

The U.S. economy is booming and unemployment is at a low, but that doesn’t paint the whole picture of the financial reality of the average American.

According to a new report from Prosperity Now, millions of Americans are one missed paycheck away from poverty.

The report found that 40% of American households are “liquid asset poor,” meaning that they don’t have enough money put away to make ends meet at the poverty level should their income be suddenly interrupted. That figure jumps to 57% for households of color.

This represents an increase from last year, which found 36.8% of Americans to be liquid asset poor. But that’s not all. Prosperity Now writes that the situation may be worse than their findings, as liquid asset poor is defined as $6,275 for a family of four in 2018—a conservative estimate of what a family would need to get by.

Meanwhile, more than 1 in 10 households fell behind on their bills, nearly one-third don’t have a savings account, and close to 40% don’t have money put aside for an emergency. As such, Kasey Wiedrich, one of the authors of the report, told CBS News that “this is not a problem of just low-income people—this is a problem of middle-class people and even people with higher income without enough savings. If they hit a shock, they are in the same boat.”

This insecurity was seen most recently during the government shutdown. Many federal workers, who for the most part are in stable jobs with good pay and benefits, were nevertheless forced to seek alternative work, sell their belongings, or turn to food banks to make ends meet as they went weeks without pay.

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