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Many Americans missing solid job market's bounty, Fed survey shows


May 22. 2018 11:19PM

Many U.S. households remain in a precarious financial position despite unemployment falling to the lowest level in years, a new Federal Reserve survey shows.

The results of the Fed’s 2017 report on the the economic well-being of U.S. households, which also explored the consequences of the opioid epidemic for the first time, found that conditions have generally improved but many groups continue to struggle.

Based on a survey of more than 12,000 people in November and December 2017, the report released Tuesday showed two in five Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency expense, and one in four don’t feel they are “at least doing OK” financially. In December, the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, and fell further to 3.9 percent in April, marking the lowest level since 2000.

“This year’s survey finds that rising levels of employment are translating into improved financial conditions for many but not all Americans,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in a statement. “We learned that about one in five adults knows someone with addiction to opioids or painkillers,” she added.

Brainard and her colleagues expect the unemployment rate will decline to 3.6 percent in 2020, according to their median estimate in March.

They are gradually raising interest rates to guide the unemployment rate back up to 4.5 percent over time. That’s their estimate of what central bankers call full employment — the lowest level over the longer run that still keeps inflation in check.

The report can be viewed below:

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