Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Locked
skor99
Posts: 157
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2017 5:51 pm

Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by skor99 » Mon May 21, 2018 7:11 am

http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/17/news/ec ... index.html

This might as well be news from another world for bogleheads, but it is happening right here in the US. Some of these may be people who waste their time and money on frivolous and harmful stuff, but most of these I would think are hardworking people who want to do well. With the taxcuts etc , the inequality may be exacerbated even more.

What can be done to help these people ? Also, what can young people starting out in the workforce do so that they don’t end up like this ? Working 12-16 hour days could be an option for a few but not all. Also, skills improvement like learning to code etc can be done by some but many don’t have that kind of aptitude. It feels wrong to see half the population in the richest country in the world doing so bad only so that the billionaires can get some more billions. Any thoughts ?

User avatar
simplesimon
Posts: 3134
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 8:53 pm
Location: Boston, MA

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by simplesimon » Mon May 21, 2018 7:27 am

I'll only try to answer one of your questions - about young people - and that is to be mobile. Move to where the job opportunities are. For the rest, you're asking for government intervention and a political discussion.

The Wizard
Posts: 12010
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by The Wizard » Mon May 21, 2018 7:29 am

This doesn't sound like a personal question.
Is the OP in this situation where paying for food and shelter is a significant problem?
Attempted new signature...

SagaciousTraveler
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu May 03, 2018 6:05 am

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by SagaciousTraveler » Mon May 21, 2018 7:33 am

I'll take a shot at this:

We as a nation know our infrastructure is in dire shape. I would put a package that together helps fund these projects and makes apprenticeship and training affordable but easy to find. This seems like the biggest no brainer yet our politicians just cant make it a priority.

Bring back trade schools. The one near me shut down but according to monster.com, it's number three on industries with major shortages. This can also be applied to the above scenario where you can help make trade schools affordable by having programs in place for sponsorship and job placement.
https://www.monster.com/career-advice/a ... rkers-1216

I'm in IT and to be honest, for entry-level positions education or certifications don't play a huge role when hiring. I want people with the ability to work hard, learn and strive to be better. There is so many free avenues to learn coding/network/foundational programing. One that I push people towards are at your local library, most have free access to Lynda.com which is an educational IT website.

SagaciousTraveler
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu May 03, 2018 6:05 am

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by SagaciousTraveler » Mon May 21, 2018 7:34 am

simplesimon wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 7:27 am
I'll only try to answer one of your questions - about young people - and that is to be mobile. Move to where the job opportunities are. For the rest, you're asking for government intervention and a political discussion.
This is a really big deal. We as a nation used to be so mobile when it came to jobs. We have lost this.

PhilosophyAndrew
Posts: 406
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:06 am

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Mon May 21, 2018 7:35 am

The Wizard wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 7:29 am
This doesn't sound like a personal question.
Is the OP in this situation where paying for food and shelter is a significant problem?
It sounds like the OP wants to know what he or she can do to help others.

I don’t know how to address any systematic causes of poverty, but there are many volunteer opportunities that could help alleviate sone of its effects (for example, food-based volunteer work) or perhaps prevent them (educational volunteer work).

Andy.

ralph124cf
Posts: 1959
Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2014 11:41 am

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by ralph124cf » Mon May 21, 2018 7:38 am

The middle class life style referred to in the article, pretty much by definition, can be afforded by a median income family. Also by definition, half of all family's must be below median income.

Ralph

skor99
Posts: 157
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2017 5:51 pm

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by skor99 » Mon May 21, 2018 7:39 am

Fortunately I am not in that position, but do know a few people who are in that position even though they work hard and don’t waste money. The statistic that shocked me somewhat is that it is half the population in this situation.
Even though it is not personal, The question is still relevant as we live as part of a society and country and we should all be responsible for its betterment. This is actionable not for me personally but people I would like to help.

User avatar
OAG
Posts: 1058
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 11:54 am
Location: Currently Central Ohio, USA

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by OAG » Mon May 21, 2018 7:41 am

Seems like the only meaningful response would turn political pretty quickly. As such "move to the work" seems to be the best response for younger people (and some older). IMO I really doubt the article (and I read the full one published a few days ago) which said HALF of the households in the US had this problem. To my way of thinking it is not likely (since by most definitions a household is about 4 people (Mom, Dad and a couple of kids)). Based on that the numbers do not add up (to me at least).
OAG=Old Army Guy. Retired CW4 USA (US Army) in 1979.

Jags4186
Posts: 2255
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by Jags4186 » Mon May 21, 2018 7:43 am

OAG wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 7:41 am
Seems like the only meaningful response would turn political pretty quickly. As such "move to the work" seems to be the best response for younger people (and some older). IMO I really doubt the article (and I read the full one published a few days ago) which said HALF of the households in the US had this problem. To my way of thinking it is not likely (since by most definitions a household is about 4 people (Mom, Dad and a couple of kids)). Based on that the numbers do not add up (to me at least).
The average household size in America is 2.54 people. There are lots of single people, married people with no children, and single parents.
Last edited by Jags4186 on Mon May 21, 2018 7:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

skor99
Posts: 157
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2017 5:51 pm

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by skor99 » Mon May 21, 2018 7:43 am

SagaciousTraveler wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 7:33 am
I'll take a shot at this:

We as a nation know our infrastructure is in dire shape. I would put a package that together helps fund these projects and makes apprenticeship and training affordable but easy to find. This seems like the biggest no brainer yet our politicians just cant make it a priority.

Bring back trade schools. The one near me shut down but according to monster.com, it's number three on industries with major shortages. This can also be applied to the above scenario where you can help make trade schools affordable by having programs in place for sponsorship and job placement.
https://www.monster.com/career-advice/a ... rkers-1216

I'm in IT and to be honest, for entry-level positions education or certifications don't play a huge role when hiring. I want people with the ability to work hard, learn and strive to be better. There is so many free avenues to learn coding/network/foundational programing. One that I push people towards are at your local library, most have free access to Lynda.com which is an educational IT website.
True, there are some success stories with bootcamps and self learning courses, but it is also true that a lot of people just do not have that mental aptitude. Even for college educated experienced people the IT job market is fickle at best. I have experienced age discrimination myself and know for a fact that companies want to offshore and outsource to minimize costs.

User avatar
munemaker
Posts: 3254
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:14 pm

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by munemaker » Mon May 21, 2018 7:45 am

Causes are globalization, automation and, in many cases, breakdown of the family structure.

Answer is education and initiative (not handouts). Work hard in elementary and secondary schools. Don't get pregnant before you can support a child. Go to college if you have the ability or take up a trade. Everyone in this country has the opportunity to improve themselves.

And I do agree... move to where the work is. Don't wait for it to come to you.

There is a thought-provoking article on the subject in Atlantic magazine. I don't agree with most of the author's opinions and conclusions, but it did get me thinking. I would love to send him a rebuttal, but a way to contact him is not provided. The end of the article touches on politics, so not appropriate for discussion here.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... cy/559130/
Last edited by munemaker on Mon May 21, 2018 7:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

SagaciousTraveler
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu May 03, 2018 6:05 am

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by SagaciousTraveler » Mon May 21, 2018 7:51 am

skor99 wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 7:43 am
True, there are some success stories with bootcamps and self learning courses, but it is also true that a lot of people just do not have that mental aptitude. Even for college educated experienced people the IT job market is fickle at best. I have experienced age discrimination myself and know for a fact that companies want to offshore and outsource to minimize costs.
Not sure I agree with the 'mental aptitude' thing.

If someone truly wants to better themselves, you can put in the effort to learn a trade or even code.

While I didn't come from poverty. I still paid in cash for my pre-law degree and graduated at the start of the recession. No jobs, couldn't afford law school, I had to deliver pizza for a year. In that year I taught myself programming fundamentals, database design, multiple OO languages and snagged myself an entry level job. From there, I continued to work hard, learn and 8 years later I now oversee a 15 million dollar annual IT division.

It can be done, did my college education factor into the entry level job. Maybe. However, two of my leads do not have a degree.

User avatar
market timer
Posts: 5923
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:42 am

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by market timer » Mon May 21, 2018 7:55 am

From the article:
For instance, in Seattle's King County, the annual household survival budget for a family of four (including one infant and one preschooler) in 2016 was nearly $85,000.
When I look at this in comparison to global poverty levels, I have to wonder what is out of balance. Is the purchasing power of the dollar really so low or are expectations for what constitutes the "survival" consumption basket too high?

Jags4186
Posts: 2255
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by Jags4186 » Mon May 21, 2018 7:59 am

munemaker wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 7:45 am
Causes are globalization and automation.

Answer is education and initiative (not handouts). Work hard in elementary and secondary schools. Don't get pregnant before you can support a child. Go to college if you have the ability or take up a trade. Everyone in this country has the opportunity to improve themselves.
The issue is that education and initiative can only go so far if the total number of jobs continues to decrease. I wonder what the US economy will look like in 100 years. All low level service jobs will likely be eliminated. There will be no more customer service people--the 100 year iterative Google Assistant will handle it. There will be no more manufacturing jobs. You'll have one person overseeing an entirely automated factory. There will be no more truck drivers or taxi drivers. Driverless vehicles will be all that's out there.

We've reinvented our economy in the last 100 years from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. I hope there will be another reinvention. I see three outcomes:

1) Economic reinvention. Tide rises for everyone
2) Growing income inequality, class strife equivalent to 18th/19th century France
3) Star Trek economy

I really hope for 1 or 3.

Jags4186
Posts: 2255
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by Jags4186 » Mon May 21, 2018 8:00 am

market timer wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 7:55 am
From the article:
For instance, in Seattle's King County, the annual household survival budget for a family of four (including one infant and one preschooler) in 2016 was nearly $85,000.
When I look at this in comparison to global poverty levels, I have to wonder what is out of balance. Is the purchasing power of the dollar really so low or are expectations for what constitutes the "survival" consumption basket too high?
Our expectations are far higher than most of the rest of the world. A person who is living it up in Zambia might live on $5000/yr. I am sure you would find "living it up" in Zambia a pretty awful experience.

User avatar
munemaker
Posts: 3254
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:14 pm

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by munemaker » Mon May 21, 2018 8:02 am

Read this:
According to data compiled by other government agencies, the typical household considered “poor” by census officials has a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household has cable or satellite TV, two color televisions, a DVD player and a VCR. If children (especially boys) are in the home, they have a video game system such as Xbox or PlayStation. In the kitchen, the household has the ordinary conveniences: refrigerator, oven, stove, microwave. Half the poor now have a personal computer. A third have a widescreen TV (plasma or LCD); a quarter have a digital video recorder such as TiVo. I
I don't know who to believe.

SagaciousTraveler
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu May 03, 2018 6:05 am

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by SagaciousTraveler » Mon May 21, 2018 8:02 am

market timer wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 7:55 am
From the article:
For instance, in Seattle's King County, the annual household survival budget for a family of four (including one infant and one preschooler) in 2016 was nearly $85,000.
When I look at this in comparison to global poverty levels, I have to wonder what is out of balance. Is the purchasing power of the dollar really so low or are expectations for what constitutes the "survival" consumption basket too high?
I need more data on that number. Is that an affluent county? There is absolutely no way $85,000 is a family of four survival budget. When I hear survival I hear food, rent and utilities. Everything else can be downsized or eliminated.

User avatar
market timer
Posts: 5923
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:42 am

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by market timer » Mon May 21, 2018 8:07 am

SagaciousTraveler wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 8:02 am
market timer wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 7:55 am
From the article:
For instance, in Seattle's King County, the annual household survival budget for a family of four (including one infant and one preschooler) in 2016 was nearly $85,000.
When I look at this in comparison to global poverty levels, I have to wonder what is out of balance. Is the purchasing power of the dollar really so low or are expectations for what constitutes the "survival" consumption basket too high?
I need more data on that number. Is that an affluent county? There is absolutely no way $85,000 is a family of four survival budget. When I hear survival I hear food, rent and utilities. Everything else can be downsized or eliminated.
Unless I see otherwise, I'm going to interpret the headline as "almost half of US families can't afford an upper middle class lifestyle."

User avatar
prudent
Moderator
Posts: 5550
Joined: Fri May 20, 2011 2:50 pm

Re: Almost half of US families can't afford basics like rent and food

Post by prudent » Mon May 21, 2018 8:14 am

This thread has run its course and is locked (not personal). See: Acceptable Topics and Subforum Guidelines
This is an investing and personal finance forum. We also maintain a subforum that allow our members to discuss consumer goods and services and recreational activities. Anything else is considered "Off Topic" and is not acceptable on this forum.

Locked