Could You Come Up With $1,000?

If you had a nickel for every recent poll that has inquired into Americans’ financial anxieties, you could be free of such anxieties yourself. Nonetheless, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg survey (fielded during the second week of this month) manages to get a fresh angle on the topic.

One of the poll’s questions instructed respondents to imagine they had to “come up with $1,000 in cash for an emergency by next week” and asked how easy it would be for them to get their hands on the money. Overall, 35 percent said “very easy” and another 27 percent “fairly easy”; 12 percent said “fairly difficult” and 19 percent “very difficult.” Five percent volunteered the answer “impossible,” and 2 percent were unsure.

In a breakdown by age group, 39 percent of the 35-64-year-olds answered “very easy,” putting them slightly ahead of those 65 and older (35 percent) and well ahead of the 18-34s (24 percent). Men were more likely than women to say “very easy” (40 percent vs. 30 percent). There was an even wider gap between white respondents (41 percent) and black respondents (15 percent).

Another question asked people whether they feel their household’s financial security is “threatened” — and, if so, how much this worries them. Just 23 percent said they don’t feel threatened on this score. Even among respondents with household income above $100,000, well under half (38 percent) said they don’t feel their financial security is in peril. What’s odd is that nearly one-fourth of all respondents feel financially threatened but nonetheless feel “not too worried” (13 percent) or “not worried at all” (10 percent) about this. The threatened-but-unworried tally rises to 31 percent among respondents in the $40,000-59,999 income bracket. Apparently there’s a sizable Alfred E. Neuman niche out there.