Study authors Frank Stafford, Bing Chen and Robert Schoeni of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research said about 1-in-5 U.S. households owe more on credit cards, medical bills, student loans and other non-collateralized debts than they have in savings and other liquid assets.
In 2011, 10 percent of U.S. families owed $30,000 or more in credit card and other non-collateralized debt, up from 8.5 percent of U.S. families in 2009.
However, the study also found 1.7 percent of U.S. families surveyed in 2011 said it is very or somewhat likely they would fall behind on their mortgage payments in the near future -- an improvement from 2009 when 1.9 percent had such expectations.
"Even though average savings levels have gone up since 2008, our data show that there has been no improvement in financial liquidity between 2009 and 2011, except among families with more than $50,000 in savings and other liquid assets," Stafford said in a statement.
The analysis is based on data on home ownership, mortgage, debt and financial resources among the same 8,121 families interviewed as part of the ISR Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a longitudinal household survey.