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The Number of Americans Struggling To Pay Rent Will Shock You

struggling to pay rent
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Millions of Americans are now struggling to pay rent. The Federal Reserve’s experiment with accommodative policy and the arrogance in its approach to stimulating yet controlling inflation is proving to be an utter failure. A growing 15% of the American renters are not caught up with their payments, and this doesn’t include the number of homeowners who are also facing eviction; new soon-to-be renters coming into the market. Making matters worse, those whose leases are expiring are looking at an exorbitant increase in their lease contracts. This is just one set of problems brewing within the context of a larger crisis—daily living is becoming unaffordable, from buying groceries to filling up on gas to get to work. We’re facing a stagflationary environment we haven’t seen since the 1970s. And as millions of Americans participated in the Great Resignation, the likelihood that the job market will begin drying up is also very likely as the economy teeters into a recession following a bear market that’s potentially larger than any we’ve seen in recent decades. The bubble that inflated America’s optimism has burst, yet the fallout may sustain itself long after people have recognized the irrationality of their previous exuberance.

  • Census Bureau survey shows 15% of renters aren’t caught up
  • More will feel the squeeze as leases come due in the summer

About 15% of US renters aren’t caught up with their payments, according to Census Bureau data, and it’s about to get worse this summer as many leases come due and landlords boost prices.

That represents 8.4 million Americans who were struggling to pay their monthly rents during the June 1 to June 13 period of the Census survey. The share was markedly higher for Black Americans -- almost a quarter are behind -- and for people age 40 to 54, an age when many are at their earnings peak. 

The Census added new questions about rents to its household survey this month, just in time to catch the peak season of lease renewals. There are roughly 60 million households who live in rentals, including many on annual leases who haven’t felt the impact from soaring rental prices this past year. That’s about to change. 

About 3.5 million households say they are very or somewhat likely to leave their house in the next two months because of eviction. In cities from Atlanta to New York, there’s already evidence of the renting squeeze. 

Over the last 12 months, rent increased by at least $250 per month for 6.7 million households, according to the survey. About half of families with kids enrolled in free or reduced-price school meal programs said it’s somewhat or very likely they’ll be evicted in the next couple of months. 

Originally published on Bloomberg.

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