A new Economic Security Index study found that economic losses were at a 25-year low for Americans last year, with about 20% of the population facing major losses. The study – which has been tracking economic data sine 1985 – used a wide variety of information to achieve accurate results.
According to CNN Money, the index was constructed by Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker, and the project was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
The ESI defines people as economically insecure when their situation meets two criteria. First, within a year's time they have lost 25% or more of their available gross income. Available gross income is the money they have left over after paying for medical costs and debt. Second, they don't have enough in an emergency fund or other liquid reserves to make up the difference.
Hacker noted that it can typically take between six to eight years to restore one's available income to its previous level. Meanwhile, a survey cited by Hacker found that 48% of Americans said last year they only had enough resources to carry them for two months before experiencing any economic hardship.
According to the index, which is based primarily on Census Bureau data, 12.2% of Americans were economically insecure in 1985. By 2009, Hacker and his team estimate that 20.4% of Americans could be classified that way. The actual number of people affected increased by more than half, from 28 million in 1985 to roughly 46 million by 2007, the last year for which hard numbers were available.