Nearly 40% of U.S. households said they faced serious financial dificulties in recent months of the Covid-19 pandemic, citing problems such as paying utility bills or credit card debt, according to a recent poll. About one-fifth have depleted all of their savings. U.S. households are struggling in many ways over a year into the coronavirus pan-demic, according to the poll conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Robert Wood John-son Foundation and National Public Radio. Nearly 60% of house-holds earning less than $50,000 a year reported facing serious financial challenges in recent months. Of those, 30% lost all of their savings, according to the poll.Close to 40% of U.S. Households Say They Face Financial Difficulties as Covid-19 Pandemic Continues, Wall Street Journal 10-15-21
For America is a rich country that treats many of its workers remarkably badly. Wages are often low; adjusted for inflation, the typical male worker earned virtually no more in 2019 than his counterpart did 40 years earlier. Hours are long: America is a “no-vacation nation,” offering far less time off than other advanced countries. Work is also unstable, with many low-wage workers — and nonwhite workers in particular — subject to unpredictable fluctuations in working hours that can wreak havoc on family life.Paul Krugman, The Revolt of the American Worker 10-24-21 NYTs
Okay, what am I missing? Is my math that bad? How do so many struggling Americans end up accelerating spending?
Earlier in the pandemic, people compensated for the loss of many services by buying stuff instead. People who couldn’t eat out remodeled their kitchens. People who couldn’t go to gyms bought home exercise equipment. The result was an astonishing surge in purchases of everything from household appliances to consumer electronics. Early this year real spending on durable goods was more than 30 percent above prepandemic levels, and it’s still very high.Paul Krugman, The Revolt of the American Worker 10-24-21 NYTs