Another 25.1% said they probably would be able to, while 22.2% said probably unable and 27.9% said certainly unable. Further details on the report are just as depressing.
From the NBER:
Approximately one quarter of Americans report that they would certainly not be able to come up with such funds, and an additional 19% would do so by relying at least in part on pawning or selling possessions or taking payday loans. If we consider the respondents who report being certain or probably not able to cope with an ordinary financial shock of this size, we find that nearly half of Americans are financially fragile.
Notably, the data that backed up this report is from a 2009 survey, so things may have improved since then, considering the limited rise in the U.S. savings rate.
But what the report does indicate is a sincere weakness in U.S. middle class consumers.
From the NBER (via WSJ.com):
The more surprising finding is that a material fraction of seemingly ‘middle class’ Americans also judge themselves to be financially fragile, reflecting either a substantially weaker financial position than one would expect, or a very high level of anxiety or pessimism. Both are important in terms of behaviour and for public policy.
Important to note, if you’re banking on the strength of the U.S. middle class consumer to power the recovery.