Higher mortgages, rents, car payments, grocery bills, and monthly expenses are financially draining U.S. households at a breathtaking pace. The cost of living continues to rise much faster than our salaries, and our purchasing power isn’t the same as it used to be just a few years back.
Today we’re paying more for everything and consuming way less than we have historically. At this point, the overwhelming majority of Americans are stressed about money, and that may not change anytime soon. We’re coping with increasing responsibilities at work but we’re not being compensated accordingly.
Adding all that to a scenario of inflation and the threat of another severe recession and we understand why even middle-and-upper-income earners are going broke, while low-income families are buried up to their heads in debt. This is America today, and we’re being warned that many more challenges are still ahead.
In March, a new NPR and Marist poll revealed that 38% of Americans say their personal finances have gotten worse over the past 12 months. That’s an 8-point jump since February. The findings reflect the rapid pace at which conditions are deteriorating for U.S. families. Although officials say economic fundamentals are improving, the public isn’t seeing that being reflected on their grocery bills or at the pump.
A growing number of Americans say they can’t pay their bills in full every month, according to the Census Bureau’s most recent Household Pulse survey. About 36% of consumers say it has been “very difficult” for them to pay their usual bills in the last month. That represents a 14% increase compared with a year earlier, and is higher than even in the early months of the pandemic, the data shows. As a result, they are taking on more and more debt to cover their bare necessities.
Meanwhile, the Working Poor Families Project reports that in America today over 53 million people, including 24 million children, are living in a low-income family. From 2020 to 2023, the share of working families who became low-income (below 200 percent of the official poverty threshold) increased from 28 percent to 31 percent. While there was an increase of 2.2 million people since 2020, the number of children in low-income working families rose by more than 500,000 in just one year.
All of these numbers are proof that living conditions in America have never been so complicated. We have actually gotten poorer than our parents and grandparents as our opportunities for growth shrank in the face of fewer middle-class jobs, inflation, rising interest rates, stock market volatility, and the housing bubble. It’s hard to see how we climb out of the hole we’re shoved into, but Americans have proven to be one of the most resilient people in the world.
Hopefully, our nation finds its strength back to start turning things around before it’s too late. In today’s video, we decided to compile several numbers that reveal just how much economic suffering is happening out there.
Here are the facts for those who don’t want to watch the video:
- Americans Are Paying More and Getting Less
- Almost 40% Say Their Financial Health Declined in the Past Year
- Nearly 1 in 3 Working Families Can’t Meet Their Basic Needs Every Month
- Almost a Third of U.S. Mothers Struggled to Feed Their Children Over the Past Year
- The Number of Low-Income Families has Soared in Recent Years
- 70% of All Americans Say They’re Now Stressed About Money
- The Majority of People in the U.S. Are Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck
- Upper-Income Earners Aren’t Immune
- Credit Card Debt Is Exploding and So Are Delinquency Rates
- People’s Sense of Financial Security Is Eroding
- Workers’ Ability to Recover From Financial Losses Is Compromised
- Most Middle-Class Americans Can’t Support Their Middle Class
- Skyrocketing Health Care Costs Are Americans’ Biggest Concern
- Medical Debt Continues to Soar
- More People Are Skipping Doctor Visits Due to Economic Distress
- Only 17% of U.S. Workers Can Afford the Average-Priced Home
- Nearly 1 Million Will Soon Need to Leave Their Home Due to Foreclosure
- At the Same Time, the Rate of Americans Falling Behind on Rent Is Rapidly Climbing
- Meanwhile, Auto Loan Debt, Delinquencies, and Defaults Are Reaching New Highs
- More Workers Worry They Can’t Afford to Retire
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Video and article via Epic Economist.