Report: 47 Percent of SF Has Under $2,000 Saved

Study notes that nearly half of San Francisco lacks long-term savings, and that’s a big problem for the city budget.

Ken Teegardin/Flickr

Don’t feel bad if you’re having trouble paying your bills this month, turns out half of San Francisco is in the same boat. But do feel bad for the effects on the budget of the city of San Francisco, because our lack of savings results in lost property taxes and increased needs for city services.

A new study this week from Washington, D.C. think tank Urban Institute calculates the cost of financially insecure residents on cities. The study defines financially insecure as “those with less than $2,000 saved,” and calculates the cost of financially insecure residents on 10 major U.S. cities, including San Francisco.

“Looking at those costs proportional to city budgets, we found that residents’ financial insecurity costs cities between 0.3 percent (San Francisco) and 4.6 percent (Seattle) of their total annual budgets,” writes Senior Researcher Diana Elliott.

The top-line financials by city can be found in the report’s technical appendix, and that’s where we see that 46.6 percent of San Franciscans have nonretirement savings of less than $2,000. That actually compares pretty well to other cities, and only Seattle has a smaller percentage of residents with less than $2,000 stashed (46.2 percent).

On the other hand, San Francisco ranks poorly on how many housing units are occupied by their owners instead of renters. Just 35.8 percent of San Francisco housing is occupied by its owners. The only two cities with lower percentages of owner-occupied housing are New York City (31.8 percent) and Miami (28.2 percent).

Overall, San Francisco scores pretty well compared to the national average on financially insecure residents. Nationwide, a full 52 percent of Americans fall under $2,000 savings threshold.

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