(NewsNation) – More than a third of working Americans don’t have enough money to meet their most basic household needs, including housing, food and childcare, according to a new study.
Researchers at Brandeis University found this out 35% of American families do not meet the “Budget for Basic Family Needs” – the amount needed to afford rent, food, transportation, medical care and minimal household expenses – despite working full-time all year round.
The situation is dire among working black and Hispanic families, more than 50% of whom cannot afford basic necessities. A quarter of white families and 23% of Asian and Pacific Islander families struggle to earn rent and buy groceries despite working full-time jobs.
Abby Walters, a research fellow at the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy, is one of three researchers who conducted the study. She said this is a long-standing problem that many working families have known for a long time.
“Our study was conducted using data prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the historical inflation we have seen. So families were already struggling before that time,” Walters said. “It’s important to note that these basic needs that we’re looking at are higher than the poverty line, but still don’t include many things that people consider essential to the American Dream, like saving for our homes or simpler pleasures like that Opportunity to have your child go out for their birthday.”
Walters said many families now rely on government transfers and supplement their income with government transfers, or face significant housing and food insecurity while struggling to ensure they provide all the resources needed to support their child’s healthy development required are.
Walters said solving this problem is bigger than “just giving people more money.” Here are three things she recommends to combat this problem:
- Working families need a raise. This can happen through several mechanisms—employers can start paying their workers more, or Americans can rely on government transfers like the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Another thing that can be done is to lower the cost of these necessary expenses like shelter and food.
- It’s important that Americans invest in policies that support work and families, like paid family and sick leave and an affordable childcare system.
Meanwhile, more and more Americans are turning to payday loans and planning to “buy now, pay later” to afford everyday essentials.
In March, Klarna, a buy-now pay later company, began rolling out payment plans at gas stations, and that trend has continued to grow.
A Harvard University study found that more Americans are using modern versions of layaway to help cover groceries and meal costs.
Nearly $46 billion was made in pay later transactions last year — three times the amount in 2020. Last year, groceries accounted for just 6% of those purchases.
Fast forward to this year, Zip says it has seen 95% growth in grocery transactions.
According to Klarna, more than half of the top 100 items purchased are groceries and household items.
Grocery and restaurant fees account for nearly 40% of all transactions, according to Zilch.
A July report by Fitch Ratings found that most buy-now-pay-later customers are economically vulnerable, and around 40% have bad credit histories.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is… these companies basically market themselves as an interest-free loan, but missed payments and late fees can even exceed what you would pay in interest on a credit card.