Savings Rate, Credit Card Delinquencies Offer Different Outlooks

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Call it a tale of two debt scenarios.

One study out this week shows that only half of Americans have more emergency savings than they do credit card debt.

But another shows that Americans' credit card delinquency rates are at five-year lows.

First up is Bankrate's data on emergency savings among consumers, which stands at the lowest level since 2011.

According to Bankrate, only 51% of U.S. adults have more emergency savings than credit card debt. Another 28% have more credit card debt than emergency savings, while 17% have neither emergency savings nor credit card debt.

Americans in their major earnings years, between the ages of 30 and 64, are most likely to have more credit card debt than emergency savings. "That's a reflection of the stagnant incomes, long-term unemployment and high household expenses that are hampering the financial progress of many Americans," says Greg McBride, CFA, and's chief financial analyst.

All in all, that led to a "dip" in Americans' financial security in the first month of 2014 -- not exactly a sign of momentum for the perpetually sluggish U.S. economy. "The stock market's rocky start to the year and a run of less-than-stellar economic readings have put a dent in consumers' feelings of financial security," McBride says.

A separate study from Chicago-based TransUnion shows the national credit card delinquency rate (which TransUnion defines as being 90 days or more late on credit card payments) has dropped to just 1.48% in the fourth quarter of 2013.

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