Quarter of US households say they’re ‘just getting by,’ Fed survey shows

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WASHINGTON – A quarter of U.S. households say they’re “just getting by” financially, a survey by the Federal Reserve shows.

The Fed issued the first-time report Thursday, describing it as a snapshot of how Americans perceive their financial and economic well-being. The survey of about 4,100 households was conducted from Sept. 17 through Oct. 4, 2013.

Thirteen per cent said they were struggling to get by, and 34 per cent reported they were somewhat worse off or much worse off than before the Great Recession hit in 2008.

Other findings: a third of those who had applied for credit in the previous 12 months said they were turned down or given less than they requested, and 24 per cent had some type of education debt.

Thirty-one per cent of people who aren’t retired said they had no retirement savings or pension, including 19 per cent of those aged 55 to 64. Nearly half of adults weren’t actively thinking about financial planning for retirement, with 25 per cent saying they had done no planning at all.

Twenty-six per cent of homeowners said they expected prices in their neighbourhood to increase by as much as 5 per cent in the 12 months following the survey period.

As the economic recovery enters its sixth year, a number of factors help explain why many Americans don’t feel better off: Income hasn’t rebounded. Millions are working part time even though they want full-time jobs. It’s taking longer to find work. People are still struggling with mortgage debt. Most people don’t feel free to spend as much as they once did.

A new annual report released Thursday by the Commerce Department shows that consumer spending has soared since the recession ended in U.S. states with oil and gas drilling booms and has lagged in states hit especially hard by the housing market bust. The state-by-state report points to substantial shifts in the economy since the recession.

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