When poor people are one check away from a crisis, what will happen when the checks stop coming.
Make no mistake about it. They will stop coming. The welfare state is going to go belly-up. There is going to be a Great Default.
The super-rich can get out. Some of them are doing this. But what about you?
It’s not just people on welfare who are at risk. It is close to half of all Americans. They are two missed paychecks from disaster. Maybe only one.
What does it mean to be poor?
If it means living at or below the poverty line, then 15 percent of Americans — some 46 million people — qualify. But if it means living with a decent income and hardly any savings — so that one piece of bad luck, one major financial blow, could land you in serious, lasting trouble — then it’s a much larger number. In fact, it’s almost half the country.
“The resources that people have — they are using up those resources,” said Jennifer Brooks, director of state and local policy at the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group. “They’re living off their savings. They’re at the end of their rope.”
The group issued a report today examining so-called liquid asset poverty households — the people who aren’t living below the poverty line, but don’t have enough money saved to weather a significant emergency.
According to the report, 43 percent of households in America — some 127.5 million people — are liquid-asset poor. If one of these households experiences a sudden loss of income, caused, for example, by a layoff or a medical emergency, it will fall below the poverty line within three months. People in these households simply don’t have enough cash to make it for very long in a crisis.
The findings underscore the struggles of many Americans during what has often seemed like an economic recovery in name only. While the Great Recession officially ended more than two years ago, unemployment remains high and wages have barely budged for most workers. For more people, whether they draw a paycheck or not, a life free of deprivation and financial anxiety seems perpetually out of reach.
That’s not to say that everyone who is liquid-asset poor spends all their time fretting. On the contrary, because many have regular paychecks coming in, they may not grasp the precariousness of their situation.
Maybe you have not considered this. It’s time.
The situation is bad today. It’s going to get a lot worse.
To see how bad it already is, click the link.