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Monday
Feb252013

Nearly Half of Americans Have More Credit Card Debt Than Savings

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Only 55 percent of Americans have more in emergency savings than they have in credit card debt, according to a survey by Bankrate.com.

This is the third time Bankrate.com has asked survey participants which they hold in higher quantity: credit card debt or emergency savings.

This year’s figure has shifted little from the previous two years. In 2012, 54 percent of Americans said they had more in emergency savings than credit card debt. In 2011, it was 52 percent when Bankrate.com questioned 1,004 participants in a telephone survey.

Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s senior financial analyst, said Americans aren’t saving nearly enough as they should.  Although the economy has slowly recovered since the last recession, “the needle has not moved in the past 24 months,” McBride said.

The personal savings rate, or savings as a percentage of disposable personal income, was in a steady decline for about two decades prior to the most recent recession. Though the savings rate is higher now than compared to the recession, it still has not budged from the 20-year downtrend.

On Jan. 31, the Commerce Department reported that the personal saving rate rose to 6.5 percent in December, from 4.1 percent in November.

“People have paid down debt and the household savings rate is higher now than prior to the recession. Despite that, [the survey] illustrates that with stagnant incomes it’s tough for people to make progress toward financial security,” McBride said.

Even among the highest income level surveyed, at $75,000 or more a year, only two out of three had more emergency savings than credit card debt. Just 41 percent of those making less than $30,000 report similarly.

The survey found 60 percent of men and 49 percent of women said they have more in savings than in credit card debt. Also, 29 percent of parents with kids younger than 18 years old have more credit card debt than savings. Of people without young children, 21 percent said the same.

Planners often recommend that you keep three months' pay on hand as an emergency fund.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio