Poll: Over one-third of Americans struggle to pay bills

Roughly one-third of Americans say they are barely able to meet their basic living expenses, according to a new poll.

Ten percent of Americans report that they cannot meet their basic needs financially, and another 24 percent report they have just enough to get by, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll out Friday.

While the economy has steadily gained and the unemployment rate has fallen, the poll found that Americans’ economic outlook is identical to 2012, when the same level reported struggling to pay their bills.

ADVERTISEMENT
The poll also found signs of broad discontent about the fairness of the U.S. economy, as Americans by nearly a two-to-one margin believe that hard work will not improve their standard of living. Americans are also more likely to believe the next generation will have to work harder to get ahead than they do.

The pain is felt most acutely at the bottom of the income and education scale. Fifty-seven percent of Americans making less than $50,000 said they either cannot pay their expenses or can barely do so. By comparison, only 15 percent of those making over $50,000 reported the same.

African-Americans are nearly twice as likely to report struggling to pay bills than white Americans, 47 percent to 29 percent. Forty-two percent of Latinos reported financial difficulties.

On the policy front, 61 percent of Americans said Washington should focus on increasing the minimum wage, compared to just 35 percent who want the emphasis to be on cutting corporate taxes and reducing business regulations. Those levels are unchanged from findings in a 2014 poll.