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Fed report on economic well-being of U.S. households
The Federal Reserve Board has issued its latest Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households, which indicates that most measures of economic well-being and financial resilience in 2018 were similar to, or slightly better than, those in 2017. Overall, the financial experiences reported by the 11,000 adults surveyed in 2018 were largely positive, and many families have experienced substantial gains since the survey began in 2013, in line with the nation's ongoing economic expansion. When asked about their overall economic well-being, 75 percent of U.S. adults said they were "doing okay" or "living comfortably"—up 12 percentage points from 2013.
The survey also asked participants how they would pay for a hypothetical unexpected expense of $400. Sixty-one percent said they would pay the expense with cash, savings, or a credit card paid off at the next statement; 27 percent would borrow or sell something; and 12 percent would not be able to cover it. In 2013, only half of adults said they would pay with cash or its equivalent. A new topic in this year's report—aimed at understanding the experiences of bank customers—was the ability of adults to access funds in their bank accounts. Thirteen percent of those with a bank account had at least one problem accessing funds in their account in the prior year. Problems with a bank website or mobile app (7 percent) and delays in funds availability (6 percent) were the most common problems cited. Those with volatile income and low savings were more likely to experience these problems.