Almost half of all American families have struggled to afford basic needs like food and housing in the last year, according to a new study from the Urban Institute, CBS News reports.
About 4-in-10 Americans report experiencing "material hardship," a term economists use to define a person's difficulty paying for basic necessities like food, housing, utilities, or healthcare.
- 39% of Americans age 18 to 65 experienced material hardship in the last year, matching a study from last year that found the same result.
- About 20% said they struggled to pay for food or medical care.
- About 30% of those who earn more that double the federal poverty level said they struggled to afford basic needs.
"The modest declines in hardship during the current favorable economic environment suggest further progress will require additional policies to raise and stabilize incomes, offset the cost of essential expenses and protect families against adverse financial shocks," the Urban Institute noted.
The study also found families that earn less than twice the federal poverty level, which would be less than $50,100 for a family of four, have experienced the most difficulty. Of those Americans, 60 percent said paying their bills has been a challenge, and 53 percent said more than half their income goes to their housing.
"These housing-cost burdens are likely to constrain low-income families' ability to pay for housing and other essential expenses, such as food, medical care, transportation, and child care," the authors of the study wrote.
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