April 1, 2013

Many Americans – Particularly Low-Income Families – Still Facing Financial Stress


Six-in-ten low-income Americans say they experienced one or more financial problems in the past year.

Although the country officially has emerged from recession, most Americans with low family incomes are experiencing financial problems. Overall, 42% of the public say they have faced one or more of the following in the past year: difficulty obtaining or paying for medical care; problems paying their rent or mortgage; or losing a job.

Among those with family incomes of less than $30,000 a year, 60% have faced one or more of these problems in the past year. By comparison, only about a quarter (24%) of those with incomes over$75,000 report encountering at least one of these problems.

Blacks continue to be much more likely than whites to face these financial problems. About half of blacks (54%) say they have either had problems getting or paying for medical care, trouble affording their rent or mortgage or been laid off. By comparison, 38% of whites have faced one or more of these problems.

When it comes to overall assessments of their personal finances, impressions have changed little in recent years. Nearly four-in-ten (38%) say their finances are in excellent or good shape, while 41% say their finances are only fair and 21% say their finances are poor. While a majority (63%) of those with family incomes of at least $75,000 rate their finances positively, just 19% of those with incomes below $30,000 do the same. Read more

  1. Photo of Bruce Drake

    is a senior editor at Pew Research Center.