Many Americans say their household expenses are outpacing earnings this year, poll shows
NEW YORK (AP) — About 2 in 3 Americans say their household expenses have risen over the last year, but only about 1 in 4 say their income has increased in the same period, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
As household expenses outpace earnings, many are expressing concern about their financial futures. What’s more, for most Americans, household debt has either risen in the last year or has not gone away.
Steve Shapiro, 61, who works as an audio engineer in Pittsburgh, said he’d been spending about $100 a week on groceries prior to this past year, but that he’s now shelling out closer to $200.
“My income has stayed the same,” he said. “The economy is good on paper, but I’m not doing great.”
About 8 in 10 Americans say their overall household debt is higher or about the same as it was a year ago. About half say they currently have credit card debt, 4 in 10 are dealing with auto loans, and about 1 in 4 have medical debt. Just 15% say their household savings have increased over the last year.
Relatively few Americans say they’re very or extremely confident that they could pay an unexpected medical expense (26%) or have enough money for retirement (18%). Only about one-third are extremely or very confident their current financial situation will allow them to keep up with expenses, though an additional 42% say they’re somewhat confident.
Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. adults have student debt, with the pandemic-era payment pause on federal loans ending this month, contributing to the crunch.
Yet even as Americans have expressed gloomy sentiments about the economy, many have continued spending, which drove a strong quarter of growth from July though September, when the economy expanded at an annual pace of 4.9%.
Even so, wages and salaries have largely trailed inflation since the pandemic, leaving most households worse off, though economists debate which measures are the best to use. In the past 12 months, however, average hourly pay has started to pull ahead of prices, rising 0.5% faster.
Americans are generally split on whether the Republicans (29%) or the Democrats (25%) are better suited to handle the issue of inflation in the U.S. Three in 10 say they trust neither party to address it.
Geri Putnam, 85, of Thomson, Georgia, said she sees her six children struggling financially more than her generation did.
“They all have jobs and have never been without them,” she said. “They’re achievers, but I think at least two or three of them will never be able to buy a home.”
A slight majority of all Americans polled (54%) describe their household’s financial situation as good, which is about the same as it’s been for the last year but down from 63% in March of 2022. Older Americans are much more confident in their current finances than younger Americans. Just 39% of 18- to 29-year-olds describe their household finances as good, compared to a majority (58%) of those who are 30 and older. People with higher levels of education or higher household incomes are more likely than Americans overall to evaluate their finances as solid.
About three-quarters of Americans describe the nation’s economy as poor, which is in line with measurements from early last year.
About 4 in 10 Americans (38%) approve of how Biden is handling the presidency, while 61% disapprove. His overall approval numbers have remained at a steady low for the last several years. Most Americans generally disapprove of how he’s handling the federal budget (68% disapprove), the economy (67%), and student debt (58%).
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