Fact check: Kamala Harris' claim about Americans with unexpected expense

Senator Kamala Harris wrote a tweet about the number of Americans with only 400$ to afford for unexpected expense, she claimed the following:

Kamala Harris on Twitter

Nearly half of American families do not have enough cash to afford a $400 unexpected expense. It’s time we put money back in their pockets – not big wealthy corporations and the top 1% https://t.co/tdQGKmF3x5


“Nearly half of American families do not have enough cash to afford a $400 unexpected expense.”

Fact Check: Mostly true

The report on the economic well being of U.S. Households in 2017- May 2018  found that “Four in 10 adults in 2017 would either borrow, sell something, or not be able pay if faced with a $400 emergency expense”.

The report also mentions that for other small expenses “such as a car repair or replacing a broken appliance, can be a hardship for many families without savings. When faced with a hypothetical expense of only $400, 59 percent of adults in 2017 say they could easily cover it, using entirely cash, savings, or a credit card paid off at the next statement (referred to, altogether, as “cash or its equivalent”). Over the past five years, as the economy has recovered, the fraction of families able to easily cover this emergency expense has increased by about 9 percentage points”.


This chart has been taken from the federal reserve website.

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