The Precarious State of Family Balance Sheets

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This report seeks to develop a clear picture of the current state of household financial security. It explores the ways three components of family balance sheets—income, expenditures, and wealth—have changed over the past several decades, how they interrelate, and why understanding family finances requires that they be examined together.

The study reveals a striking level of financial fragility: Despite the national recovery, many families have experienced minimal wage growth, have few savings, and could not withstand a financial emergency. This reality must begin to change if the American Dream is to remain alive and well for future generations.
Key Findings:


EARNINGS GROWTH
2% Total growth in earnings for typical U.S. worker from 1999-2009.
LIMITED SAVINGS
9 days Length those at the bottom of the income ladder can survive on liquid savings.
FINANCIAL STRAINS
70% of U.S. households face financial strains on income, expenditures, or wealth.
EXPENDITURES
6% growth in average household expenditures since 1984, after adjusting for inflation.
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