85.4 million face trouble paying bills: census

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Biweekly survey data from the Census Bureau shows that 85.4 million American adults, or 35.6 percent, report trouble paying for typical household bills such as food, medicine and rent. 

That figure, which covers the period of Nov. 25 through Dec. 7, is up significantly since early September, when it hovered at 76.5 million, or 31.9 percent. 

The survey shows steady increases in other areas of concern in recent weeks as well.

The number of people without enough to eat rose from 22.4 million, or 10.3 percent, to 27.4 million, or 12.7 percent.

The number of adults who aren’t sure they can make their rent or mortgage payments rose from 9.9 million, or 7 percent, in early October, to 12.9 million, or 9.1 percent, in December.

Expectations of job loss spiked as well, with 76.7 million, or 31 percent, saying they expect that they or someone in their household will lose employment in the coming month. That figure is up from 58.3 million, or 28.3 percent, two months earlier. 

The latest data comes as congressional leaders near a deal on a fifth COVID-19 relief package. Congress failed to pass a deal earlier in the year, as key benefits such as additional unemployment support and loans to small businesses expired at the end of July.

Several of the survey’s indicators showed a drop-off after that point, though some indicators continued to improve into October before dropping off, as families spent down stimulus money they had accumulated.

Additional benefits are set to expire at the end of the calendar year.

Tags Census Bureau coronavirus stimulus

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