Many Americans are badly lagging in their emergency funds even as rising unemployment increases the odds they will need to rely on them to get by, a new survey released Tuesday shows.

Forty-nine percent of employed adults interviewed in a nationwide poll conducted for Country Financial said they wouldn't be able to pay their bills on time if they went more than a month between jobs.

Half of those surveyed said they would tap their savings to cope with a shortfall in income if they lost their jobs, according to the poll results. Another 16 percent said they would use their retirement accounts, while 8 percent said they'd need bank loans and 7 percent would rely on credit cards.

Keith Brannan, vice president of financial security planning for Bloomington, Ill.-based Country Financial, said the results underscore the need for people to build up emergency savings funds. Financial planners recommend people have at least three to six months of living expenses set aside in the event of a layoff or other job setback, or a year's worth if possible.

"With some economists predicting the U.S. unemployment rate could rise to 10 percent, it is more important than ever to have a cushion against lost income," Brannan said.

The poll was conducted for Country Financial by Rasmussen Reports, an independent research firm. Results were based on May 29 telephone interviews with more than 1,900 employed Americans and carry a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.