Friday, September 06, 2013

American households continued to suffer after recession ended, Census reports

American households continued to face hardships even in the aftermath of the recession. The Census Bureau said in a report released Thursday that this is the case for more than a fifth of American households, Emily Alpert reports for the Los Angeles Times. (Associated Press photo by David Goldman: Michael and Patricia Jackson of Marietta, Ga., struggled to keep a house worth $100,000 less than what they owed)

Being unable to cover rent or mortgage payments, leaving bills unpaid, losing phone service, skipping needed doctor visits, lacking enough food for the family and other financial struggles were some of the hardships noted.

Such hardships remained more prevalent in 2011 than in 2005, before the downturn. American households unable to cover "essential expenses" of any kind rose from 14 percent to 16 percent, households suffering from food shortages jumped from 2 percent to 3 percent and households with unpaid rent or mortgage climbed from 6 percent to 8 percent, writes Alpert. 

The report also found that while most Americans believe they will get help from community agencies and those close to them when they are in financial binds, a much smaller share of households actually receive such help, writes Alpert. For example, when households had trouble paying rent or mortgage, only 5 percent were helped by friends, 17 percent by family and 10 percent from elsewhere, the report found.

Despite the financial hardships, the amount of technology in households increased. The report showed that in 2011, 78 percent of households surveyed had a computer, compared to 67 percent in 2005. Cellphones were found in 89 percent of households in 2011, up from 71 percent in 2005, Alpert writes.

The report is based on the Survey of Income and Program Participation, which interviewed more than 36,000 American households from May to August 2011. The report is here.

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