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February 23, 2021

New survey sheds light on the financial insecurity of American workers and outlines solutions to help employers and policymakers address the key challenges they face

The Funding Our Future initiativein partnership with Edelman Financial Engines, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and America Savesconducted research in January 2021 to examine current employee sentiments surrounding their finances, as well as to understand how prepared employees are for a true financial emergency. 

See all survey resources here. 

Read the Executive Summary here 

Download the crosstabs here.

Read BPC’s blog on the findings here.

Key Themes 

Far too many households are chronically short of emergency savings that could protect them against unexpected losses of income or surprise expenses. Since COVID-19, this problem has been elevated to a national scale. Our new survey highlights Americans’ shaky savings and reveals the uneven and inadequate access to savings vehiclesYet despite these factors, workersin particular younger workersseem optimistic about their financial future and are seeking tools and resources that can help.   

3 in 5 employees feel financially secure 

However, there is a great divide in those sentiments, with 83% of those with incomes above $100,000 feeling financially secure, compared to only 43% of those with incomes below $50,000. 

58% of employees are optimistic about their financial future 

Despite all they’ve been through over the past year, many employees still have hope surrounding their financial future. This optimism is especially pronounced for younger generations.  

Yet 1 in 3 employees say they would run out of savings on hand in one month or less 

Unfortunately, hope is not a financial plan. Most employees would not be prepared if their income suddenly stopped.  

18% would run out in less than 1 month 

12% would run out in 1 month 

12% would run out in 2 months 

31% would run out in 3-6 months 

19% would have enough saved for 7+ months

All things are not equal. The data supports a k-shaped recovery that reveals inequities across gender, race, and income levels. 

1 in 2 employees with incomes below $50,000 say they do not have money set aside for an emergency 

1 in 2 women feel somewhat or very financially insecure 

1 in 2 Black and Hispanic workers struggled to pay for a personal expense last year 



Funding Our Future, in conjunction with America Saves Week, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and Edelman Financial Engines, conducted an online survey of America’s employees from January 22-25, 2021, across a sample of 1,599 employed adults, who were employed in January 2020 or are currently employed. Questions BPC 15-17 were conducted between February 10-12, 2021, among a national sample of 945 adults who are currently employed. Aggregate data is reported with +/-2% margin of error. Fielding was conducted on the Morning Consult Platform.  


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