Even with the unemployment rate hovering at all-time lows, a surprising number of Americans are still struggling to make ends meet, according to a report published yesterday by the Urban Institute.
“Economic growth and low unemployment alone do not ensure everyone can meet their basic needs,” wrote the report’s authors, who revealed that 40% of Americans had problems paying for the basic necessities of life — food, health care, housing or utilities — last year.
Breaking down the specific hardships – 13% missed a utility bill payment, 10.2% missed a mortgage payment, 18% had problems paying medical bills, and 23% had problems paying for food. The report was based on a survey of 7,600 adults.
The problems were felt by individuals across the spectrum of wealth, but were most acute among those whose household incomes were all below the federal poverty line. Interestingly, individuals with lower incomes actually had fewer medical-related hardships than those who made more money, likely due to the availability of Medicaid.
As well, when it rained it poured for a large number of households last year. Among those that experienced one of the hardships listed on the survey, 60% said they experienced two of them, and 35% said they experienced three or more. Individuals with chronic healthcare conditions are also more likely to report a hardship, as well as those who said their health condition was “fair or poor.” Younger individuals – those between 18 and 34 years old, were the age demographic most likely to report a hardship.