Many upper-middle class Americans have little to no emergency cushion and are not prepared for retirement.
The Atlantic's Allison Schrager takes a look at the lack of financial assets for the "middle-aged," or those between 40 and 55. On average most people in that range have $70,000 in assets which only amounts to about one year's salary. But a quarter of that age group have just $17,500 in assets.
One reason savings have been displaced is the growth of the 401(k):
That is, after putting money into their retirement accounts, people don’t have much left over to save in other ways or don’t feel the need to do so. But this could also lead people to rely on those accounts in a pinch, which is a bad strategy since retirement accounts have penalties for early withdrawal.
... The problem with having no savings is that when something goes wrong, or workers retire, they suddenly need to cut back. If that happens, it’s painful not only for those individual households, but the broader economy. So it’s not just low earners who are vulnerable.