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The $400 Statistic under the Biden Administration.



The Frightening $400 Statistic: A Look Into America's Financial Well-being under the Biden Administration.


One of the most unsettling realities of American life today is the precarious state of personal finance for many citizens. Vice President Kamala Harris recently brought our attention to a chilling statistic: Almost half of Americans would struggle to cover a $400 emergency expense. A lack of financial resilience among such a substantial proportion of the population is an alarming state of affairs.


The $400 figure has become a notable benchmark in the dialogue surrounding America's financial health. It emerged from the Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED), an annual report by the Federal Reserve, which found that 47% of American adults couldn't afford a sudden expense of $400 without resorting to borrowing or selling possessions.


A detailed examination using the NewsBank’s Access World News database uncovers the extensive media coverage this statistic has received. Since 2014, over a thousand unduplicated news content features in the United States have mentioned the "$400 emergency expense". The usage of this figure in news content began on a small scale, but as the SHED grew in prominence, so did references to this statistic.


In 2019 alone, the $400 figure appeared in more than 300 news sources, peaking in its usage. Among these sources, newspapers cited the statistic most frequently with 192 instances, followed by newswires with 69 instances, and web-only news content providers with 32 instances.


To understand the gravity of this situation, it helps to consider what a $400 emergency expense might look like. For many Americans, this could be a car repair bill - a vital expense for those who rely on their vehicles for work or to access essential services. Similarly, an unexpected medical bill can easily exceed $400, leaving individuals with the harrowing choice between debt and health. A broken furnace in the middle of winter or a leaking roof after a storm, could also land in this category. For families living paycheck to paycheck, even seemingly minor disruptions like a broken refrigerator, or needing to replace a worn-out pair of work boots can cause significant financial stress.


The $400 emergency expense statistic sheds a stark light on the troubling financial reality for many Americans under the Biden Administration. It underlines the need for solutions that bolster financial resilience, whether through policies that encourage savings, measures to reduce income volatility, or initiatives that provide safety nets for those who are most vulnerable. It is a wake-up call for all of us, policy-makers, stakeholders, and citizens, to create a society where unexpected expenses don't lead to financial crises.


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