In a recent survey, 56 percent of Americans stated that they have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined, according to a Forbes report. Around a quarter (24.8 percent) have less than $100 to their name. Meanwhile, 38 percent said they would pay less than their full credit card balance this month, and 11 percent said they would make the minimum payment—meaning they will be plagued by debt for years and pay more in interest than they originally borrowed. It paints a daunting picture of the average American coming into the spend-heavy holiday season: steeped in credit card debt, living paycheck-to-paycheck, at serious risk of financial ruin if the slightest thing goes wrong.
It’s a reminder that, while the larger economy has steadily recovered from the Great Recession, the gains have not yet surfaced at the local level.
Another study reports that only 65 of the 3,069 counties in the U.S. have fully recovered from the near-collapse in 2008. This also speaks to the enduring effect of decades of wage stagnation, when many Americans’ pay has not kept up with inflation and they have been left further and further behind.