June 30, 2014 at 1:00 am

Poll: Many in U.S. face emergency savings crisis

About a quarter of Americans have no money saved to handle emergencies, according to a recent poll that showed households in worse shape than they were a year ago to deal with financial trouble.

The Bankrate.com survey also found that two-thirds of respondents said they have less than the recommended six months’ worth of readily available savings to cover living expenses, such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills and food costs, in case of a lost job or other difficulties.

“Americans continue to show a stunning lack of progress in accumulating sufficient emergency savings,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for the financial information website.

About a third of respondents — 34 percent — said they were less comfortable with their savings than they were a year ago. Just 18 percent said they were more comfortable.

The 26 percent of respondents who said they had no emergency savings was down slightly from 27 percent in a Bankrate.com survey last year.

The 67 percent of households with less than six months’ worth of savings was down from 71 percent last year.

And the percentage of people who said they had at least three months’ worth of savings declined to 40 percent this year from 45 percent.

The drops came even though the personal savings rate calculated by the Commerce Department has doubled from a record low of 2 percent in 2005 during the subprime housing market boom to 4 percent in April.

Consumers have become thriftier because of the financial trauma of the Great Recession. The savings rate spiked to 8.7 percent in 2012, but has been trending down as the economy has improved.

The Bankrate.com survey of 1,004 adults found that people ages 30-49 were the least likely to have readily available emergency savings, such as money in a checking or savings account. But even the highest earners, those with annual incomes of more than $75,000, had trouble putting money away. Less than half of them — 46 percent — had six months’ worth of savings, the poll found.