Half of Americans have been dubbed "financially fragile," meaning if asked to come up with $2,000 in 30 days, they probably couldn't, according to a paper published by researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the George Washington School of Business, Princeton University and the Harvard Business School.
The survey asked the question, "If you were to face a $2,000 unexpected expense in the next month, how would you get the funds you need?"
In the United States, 24.9 percent of respondents reported being certainly able, 25.1 percent probably able, 22.2 percent probably unable and 27.9 percent certainly unable, The Wall Street Journal reports.
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The $2,000 figure "reflects the order of magnitude of the cost of an unanticipated major car repair, a large copayment on a medical expense, legal expenses, or a home repair," the report says.
That also doesn't apply just to lower-income Americans.
"The more surprising finding is that a material fraction of seemingly 'middle class' Americans also judge themselves to be financially fragile, reflecting either a substantially weaker financial position than one would expect, or a very high level of anxiety or pessimism," the Journal reports.
The U.S. economy may be officially out of the recession, but high unemployment rates and rising food and grocery prices are making many nervous, even if inflation stripped of volatile food and energy prices remains tame.
"Households appear to be reacting to recent inflation data in a way that is not warranted by the actual dynamics of inflation," says San Francisco Fed research adviser Bharat Trehan, according to Reuters.
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