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Even the Upper Middle Class Lives Paycheck to Paycheck

Via Flickr user [Dan Moyle](

Via Flickr user Dan Moyle.

It seems poor and working class Americans aren’t the only ones who are one paycheck away from financial disaster. After analyzing data from the Federal Reserve’s 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances, Quartz has discovered that despite their more lucrative salaries, many in America’s upper middle class are also struggling, relatively speaking.

“We tend to associate empty bank balances with those on the lowest rungs of the income ladder,” writes Quartz’s Allison Schrager. “But many of America’s upper middle class have almost no emergency cushion and are woefully unprepared for retirement.”

According to the data, 25% of upper middle class households between the ages of 40 and 55 have less than $17,500 in financial assets (assets besides a house, car, or business). While that might seem like a lot of money to someone who is struggling to get by, it’s a relatively small amount considering the age range, and the fact that an upper middle class household brings in between $50,000 to $100,000 per year. Granted, the value of an upper middle class home or a business will surely offset some this. But it’s not as if a house or office space is easy to liquidate.

If money from retirement accounts such as IRAs or 401ks is not factored into the mix, the picture becomes even bleaker.

“The average upper-middle-class household has just $12,200 in non-pension financial wealth,” Schrager says. “Even worse, within that group, about 25% of the higher earning population had only $3,200 in 2013. It’s no wonder one quarter of all American households couldn’t come up with $2,000 if they faced an emergency—it’s not just low earners.”

To read Schrager’s Playboy article about the future of blue-collar American workers, click here.

(Source: Quartz)

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