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Savings & Retirement

Americans Will Soon Need Extra Money They Saved in Lockdown

  • Even middle-class households are often short of liquid assets
  • Almost 40% say they’d struggle to cover surprise $400 expense
Updated on

During the worst economic collapse in generations, U.S. households actually managed to put aside more money. It may not be enough to get them through the aftermath.

Savings rates soared to an unprecedented one-third of disposable income during the pandemic lockdown. Still-employed Americans found there weren’t many places to spend their paychecks, and expanded government benefits helped paper over the financial cracks for the tens of millions who lost their jobs.

But the fiscal lifeline is a temporary one. When it’s withdrawn -– and Congress is already discussing the timetable –- fragile household finances may come under growing strain.

Some 37% of adults told the Federal Reserve last year that they didn’t have enough cash to handle an unexpected expense of $400. That’s down from about 50% in 2013, as households bolstered their savings during the long U.S. expansion.