The Economy May Be Booming, But Nearly Half Of Americans Can’t Make Ends Meet

By David Lazarus
The Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Urban Institute, a left-leaning Washington think tank, surveyed more than 7,500 adults about their experience making ends meet. It found that about 40 percent of people ages 18 to 64 faced some sort of hardship last year.

The Los Angeles Times

By virtually any yardstick, the U.S. economy is doing great. Unemployment is near a two-decade low. The stock market is strong. Corporate profits are at record highs.

Yet a report out this week finds that almost half of Americans are having trouble paying for basic needs such as food and housing.

The Urban Institute, a left-leaning Washington think tank, surveyed more than 7,500 adults about their experience making ends meet. It found that about 40 percent of people ages 18 to 64 faced some sort of hardship last year.

“It’s certainly surprising and disconcerting that so many people are having difficulty meeting their basic needs,” said Michael Karpman, a research associate at the Urban Institute and coauthor of the report.

“What we found is that a lot of people have to devote much of their income to fixed expenses like rent or healthcare,” he told me. “If they’re hit with a large, unexpected expense, they simply can’t cover it.”

The stats become more troubling the deeper you drill down. More than 35 percent of families with at least one working adult reported difficulty meeting at least one basic need last year.

Almost a quarter of Americans experienced food insecurity, which is to say they didn’t always know if they’d be able to eat if they were hungry.

A staggering 18 percent faced issues paying medical bills, and nearly as large a percentage reported skipping treatment for an ailment because they couldn’t afford it.

Slightly more than 10 percent of Americans missed a rental or mortgage payment. Thirteen percent couldn’t pay a utility bill.

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