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Prosperity—Not for All

America is sailing along at peak prosperity, with the stock market having boomed for 10 years and the last recession coming in the previous decade. Unemployment is at a 20-year low. There are arguments about which President is responsible for this great news, but most Americans are prosperous. Right?

Apparently not. The nonprofit Center for Financial Services Innovation polled more than 5,000 Americans and concluded that, in the midst of this unprecedented economic prosperity, only 28% of Americans could be considered “financially healthy.” That is calculated by examining spending, saving, credit and other indicators. It is defined as not having an unhealthy amount of debt, an irregular income, and sporadic savings habits.

The survey found that an astonishing 17% of Americans are “financially vulnerable,” meaning they struggle with nearly all financial aspects of their lives. Some 44% of respondents said their expenses had exceeded their income in the past year, and they had to use credit to make ends meet. Another 42% reported having no retirement savings at all.

Other research supports these conclusions. The website bankrate.com includes a report saying that only 29% of Americans have six months or more of emergency savings, and roughly the same amount say they have none. The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp data suggests that the median American household holds just $11,700 in savings.

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