December 17, 2015 · Financial Health

Millions are living paycheck to paycheck

Stagnating wages and Social Security checks that are stretched thin make it harder to keep up with rising rents, leaving too little for food, health care and child care.

As the economy has recovered slowly from a severe recession, new jobs have been concentrated in lower-paying positions such as fast food workers and administrative roles.

Renters’ incomes have been stagnant. The median annual household income for renters in 2013 was $32,832. After adjusting for inflation, that’s lower than the median of $33,708 in 2005, according to U.S. Census data.

Low-income families who spend more than half their income on housing have less than $20 left each day to cover all other expenses, according to Harvard housing policy experts.

Renters and homeowners who can barely afford their homes spend on average 39 percent less on food and 65 percent less on health care compared with families living in affordable housing.

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