Many working Americans would fall down a financial sinkhole if they lost their current job, putting pressure on them to find a new job quickly, found a Gallup poll released Friday.
Gallup's annual Economy and Personal Finance poll, conducted April 3-6, showed that about 31 percent of workers could get by without a job for up to a year or more, while 26 percent of workers saying they could go without a job for up to four months. Twenty-nine percent said they could get by for up to one month, while 14 percent said they could go just one week before experiencing significant financial hardship.
The findings underscore economists' worries that Americans are not saving enough money, even in the flagging recovery from the worst recession in decades.
One reason many American workers may not be prepared financially for a job loss is they think it is unlikely to happen to them, Gallup found. Sixteen percent of workers say they are " very" or "fairly" likely to lose their job in the next 12 months. That percentage is down from a peak of 21 percent in 2010, a year of high unemployment.
The vast majority of U.S. workers currently say it is either " not too likely" (34 percent) or "not at all likely" (50 percent) that they will lose their job in the next 12 months.
Younger workers say they would be subject to financial hardship much more quickly than older workers if they did lose their job. Six in 10 workers younger than 35 could go only one month or less before experiencing hardship, compared with 39 percent of workers aged 35 to 54, and 25 percent of workers aged 55 and older.
That difference may be attributable to older workers' having had more years to build up savings.
Relatively few U.S. workers expect to get laid off, because even in times of high unemployment, at least 90 percent of Americans in the workforce are employed. Still Gallup estimates that about 9 percent of U.S. workers are especially vulnerable as they are fairly likely to lose job but do not have the financial means to go more than a month without finding a new job.