Despite recent signs of improvement in the economy, more consumers feel financially insecure than they did a year ago -- in large part because of their lack of savings to cushion a job loss or other problems, according to poll results released Tuesday by Bankrate.com.
Just 54% of consumers have more emergency savings than credit card debt, the poll of 1,006 adults found.
"Emergency savings remains a problem area for many Americans, which leaves them only one unplanned expense away from having high-cost debt," said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. "As difficult as it may be to boost savings, having an adequate emergency savings cushion is critical to maintaining financial stability, and Americans need to find ways to sock away more cash for a rainy day."
The emergency savings figure was slightly better than in a Bankrate.com poll a year ago, when 52% of Americans had more emergency savings than credit card debt.
The savings rate rose in December to its highest level in four months as consumers tucked more money away, in part because of rising wages, the Commerce Department recently reported.
Still, the widespread lack of an emergency fund contributed to the higher level of financial insecurity even as other indicators have shown consumer confidence rising. The new poll found that 27% of Americans reported a lower level of financial security compared with last year, while just 24% said they felt more secure.