A shocking number of Americans are not saving anything at all

A full 21% of working American adults aren’t saving anything at all – not for emergencies, retirement funds, or even a rainy day, according to a new survey by Bankrate. Meanwhile, 4 in 10 Americans don’t have $400 in cash for an emergency, the Federal Reserve recently reported.

The survey was conducted for Bankrate by SSRS, who interviewed 1,003 respondents via telephone.

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The low number isn’t news. “This result has shown little change over the past few years, consistently coming in at 20% or 21% since 2016,” said Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate chief financial analyst.

Those who are saving aren’t saving much. While nearly half (48%) of working adults are saving, they’re only squirreling away just 10% of their yearly income.

Only 16% say they sock away more than 15% of their annual salary.

Who can save, who can’t

Of course, it gets harder to save the less you make, especially if you’re the 80% of workers living paycheck to paycheck. For households earning less than $30,000 per year, 45% aren’t saving anything at all.

For households aged 55 and older, however, they’re more likely than other age groups to be savings more than 10% of their annual income – likely spurred by their upcoming retirement.

Millennials and Gen Xers were found to be either not saving any money at all, or if they are saving, they’re saving not more than 10% of their yearly income. Then again, Millennials are crippled by student loan debt, and both generations face flat wage growth.

Why aren’t Americans saving?

Aside from personal obligations, 16% of working adults say their job doesn’t provide enough for them to save. And 13% say they have too much debt. Then there’s the fact that Americans have been in a savings crisis for a long time; since the 1970s our personal savings rate has fallen from around 12% to just 3% today. The culprits? Stagnant wages, the rising cost of everything, and lowered interest rates for savings.

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