Millions of Americans only one missed paycheck away from poverty

According to a new study from the economic group Prosperity Now, 40 percent of Americans are only one missed paycheck away from living in poverty.

Posted: Feb. 11, 2019 6:37 PM

(ST.JOSEPH,MO)A new study from the economic group Prosperity Now says millions of Americans are only one missed paycheck away from living in poverty. According to the 2019 scorecard of the advocacy group, 40 percent of households are considered “liquid asset poor” lacking even enough emergency savings to live at the poverty level for three months if their income was delayed.

Whitney Lanning, executive director of the Community Action Partnership (CAP), said over 18 percent of people living in St. Joseph are considered low income and over one in three children in the community between the ages of one and five-years-old are living in poverty.

"It's hard to have the forethought of a disaster, but unfortunately that is just, families have to be aware of what's out there," Lanning said.

The scorecard data shows the financial situation is much worse for minorities, or non-white workers. Approximately 57 percent of the non-white working population live only one financial hiccup away from poverty.

"If someone in their household cannot work for whatever reason, then they really are unable to meet their basic needs," Lanning said.

But it’s not just the working poor that could be impacted by a missed paycheck. According to a report from a Senate Appropriations Committee, 420,000 federal employees missed multiple paychecks due to the partial government shutdown.After 35 days of uncertainty, many families are bracing for another financial hit and attempting to plan for the possibility of another shutdown.

Chris Stiens, investment advisor for Family Investment Center, said setting a budget is the best way for families to plan for any unforeseen hardships.

"You want three to six months worth of your expenses in savings so that if, god forbid a job goes away or something happens and you can't work and you are going to miss a paycheck or two, then you have that savings to fall back on," Stiens said.

For those unable to save enough money for emergency situations, planning is key. Lanning said it can take weeks before people can receive federal or regional assistance.

"Food stamps can take a very long time, child care assistance, all of those things. Those needs keep going forward but your income is not there and most families don't have the liquid assets to support themselves," Lanning said.

Funding for government agencies is scheduled to run out by February 16, if a deal can not be made between the President and Congress.

"People see it on the national news and it seems very far away, but this is a very real issue that is effecting not just American households, but St. Joe and northwest Missouri households," Lanning said.

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