Financial Inclusion

Nearly Half Of All Americans Have A Tough Time Paying Bills

A new survey released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reveals some rather worrying truths about the financial well-being of the American consumer.  The survey of Americans — with varied  income and educational backgrounds — seems to indicate that more than 40 percent of U.S. adults struggle to pay bills. The survey focused specifically on citizens’ ability to meet their financial obligations, secure their financial futures and make choices that allow them to maximize the benefits in their lives.

The same survey of U.S. household finance also found 34 percent have experienced material hardships in the last year such as running out of food or not having enough money for medical treatment.

Those results come as the U.S. is ten years outside the Great Recession, median income is at a historic high and the U.S. is reaching what economists call full employment.

“A large percentage of people are financially fragile,” the report said. “Overall, we find that the financial well-being of U.S. adults varies widely.”

Even among those who scored in the average range for financial well being, 20 percent noted that they have occasional difficulty paying for their basic needs like food.

Who were the best off financially? Unfortunately, the survey did not offer any silver bullets as to surefire ways to avoid financial insecurity.  Education was the biggest correlating factor, followed by age (older Americans trend more stable) and good physical health.

Gender was not a major or predictive factor — and while race was, it wasn’t a major one. According to the survey, non-Hispanic adults enjoy slightly better financial health than those in other racial and ethnic groups.

The CFPB also noted that while income is a key variable, income alone “does not fully capture all of the underlying elements of financial well-being.”

At all income levels, those with the largest financial cushions were in the best shape. Those eligible for Social Security retirement payments and employer-sponsored health and retirement benefits enjoy greater financial well-being.


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