Despite increasing signs that the economic downturn is ending, a new poll from the Northwest Area Foundation (NWAF) finds that 27 percent of Americans have had trouble making ends meet and paying for basic necessities, such as their mortgage, rent and heating bills. The poll underscores the far-reaching effects of the recession by looking beyond Wall Street and examining the impact of the economic crisis on American families. Among the results, the poll finds 53 percent of Americans have reduced their spending for food, while 44 percent have cut back on saving for retirement.
The findings also show that most Americans have a different perception from the federal government of what it takes to make a sufficient living. For example, more than 68 percent of Americans said a family of four needs $40,000 a year to stay above water--nearly double the official poverty threshold of $22,050.
And with times being tough, Americans want to see a difference in government policy and are looking to their elected officials for more action. The poll finds most Americans (51 percent) think the government isn't doing enough to help. As lawmakers continue to debate health care reform legislation, almost a third (32 percent) said they have had trouble paying for medical treatment.
Although Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently said that the recession is "very likely over," these results indicate that many Americans will remain anxious about their financial security and will continue to call for action from federal and state policymakers.