More Americans say they can’t pay their bills. Here are the states where it’s worst.

A growing number of Americans say they are struggling to pay their bills. Concerned with inflation and the loss of federal pandemic aid.

About 36 percent of consumers say it’s been “somewhat” to “very difficult” for them to pay their regular bills in the past seven days, according to the latest Census Bureau data. Household pulse survey, which collected responses during the first two weeks of February. That represents a 25 percent increase from a year ago, and is higher than in the early months of the pandemic, when households were buoyed by unemployment aid and stimulus checks.

The health of American consumers is key to the U.S. economy, which relies on consumer spending for 70 cents of every $1 in economic activity. Increasingly, however, there are signs that more households are going broke, with grocery prices rising 20 percent in two years and rents rising 13 percent.

Neil Sanders, managing director of Global Data, said in a research note, citing his company’s survey of nearly 2,800 Americans, that consumers are pushing back by trading up on cheaper store brands and even buying less food.

“[I]Inflation is not an enemy that consumers can tolerate indefinitely,” he noted.

Negative earnings

At the same time, there is a dichotomy in the economy: The job market is strong, with employers hiring. Yet while more Americans may have jobs than in the early days of the pandemic, their incomes are not keeping up with inflation — reducing their quality of life, experts said.

“Real income has been negative every month since April 2021,” noted Evan Lorenz, deputy editor of the Grant Interest Rate Observer. “The money they’re bringing home every week goes down a little bit.”

Census data shows that some Americans are struggling more than others, with many southern states reporting a greater share of hardship. Incomes in these regions are lower, with many workers still earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour — an hourly rate that hasn’t decreased since 2009.

Census data shows Mississippi has the largest share of Americans struggling to pay their bills — more than half of its residents report having trouble meeting their specific obligations. . Other states with a higher than average share of struggling households include Alabama, Louisiana and West Virginia.

The median household income in Mississippi is $46,637, well below the U.S. average of $70,784. According to To the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Minnesota, meanwhile, has the smallest share of state residents struggling to pay their bills, with a median household income of $80,441.

“I’m overwhelmed”

Not surprisingly, Americans making less than $25,000 are struggling the most, with nearly 64 percent saying they’ve had trouble paying their most recent bills recently, the Census report found. And those who receive food stamps, who typically live in low-income households, are reporting increased financial distress, according to Stacey Taylor, head of policy and partnerships at Propel, which advocates for food stamp recipients. creates an app for them to check their balance. .

Food stamp recipients are reporting problems such as, “‘My credit cards are maxed out, I can’t get the job I need, my rent is past due and I’m at breaking point.’ ‘, Taylor said of the company’s February survey of its customers.

“All we hear is, ‘I’m overwhelmed,'” she added.

Millions of Americans face “hunger cliff” as food stamp benefits shrink


Even some high-income Americans say they have problems. According to Census data, about 1 in 10 people who earn more than $200,000 a year said they had some or a lot of trouble paying bills.

Sure, this reflects a much smaller share of low-income Americans who say they’re tight, but it could indicate that even wealthier households are keeping up with recent economic trends in their living standards. Pressing to keep. For example, new cars are 19 percent more expensive than they were two years ago, and a record share of Americans are making monthly auto payments. Over $1,000.

“The cost of living in America — you need a roof over our head and a car to get to your job — is rising faster than your income,” Lorenz said.

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