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What percentage of Americans will be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense without selling something or borrowing money in 2020?

Since 2013, the Federal Reserve Board has conducted the Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED), which measures the economic well-being of U.S. households and identifies potential risks to their finances. The survey includes modules on a range of topics of current relevance to financial well-being including credit access and behaviors, savings, retirement, economic fragility, and education and student loans.

Since its first edition in 2013, the SHED has included a question about whether or not the survey participant could cover an unexpected $400 expense without needing to sell something or borrow money.

In 2013, only 50% of survey participants said that they could do so. (See Figure 11 in the link above.) That number has slowly but steadily improved over time. In 2017, the most recent year for which figures are available as of January 16 2019, 59% of survey participants said they could do so.

This question asks: In the Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking conducted for the year 2020, what percentage of Americans will say that they could cover an unexpected $400 expense without needing to sell something or borrow money?

In the event that this survey is renamed or discontinued but the same question is asked by another survey conducted by either the Federal Reserve or the U.S. Treasury, this question should remain active. If no such survey is conducted for the year 2020, this question shall resolve ambiguously.

In the event that the dollar value in question is changed by more than 5% in real terms (linked to 2019 dollars), this question shall resolve ambiguously.


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