Lots of American families are underwater...and not just on their mortgages.
About one out of every five U.S. households owe more on credit cards, medical bills, student loans and other debts not backed by collateral than they have in savings and other liquid assets, according to a new University of Michigan report published Tuesday.
The precariousness of Americans' financial situations has become increasingly on display since the mortgage crisis precipitated the Great Recession. As home prices fell, many borrowers found they owed more than their homes were worth, spurring some to simply walk away. About 23% of borrowers were underwater at the end of 2011, according to CoreLogic.
Though the Great Recession has ended, many families remain in tough financial spots.
"Some families have not been able to make substantial headway," said Frank Stafford, co-author of the report. "Even if they're not underwater with their mortgages, they are struggling to save money and reduce their debts."
The Michigan report found that 23.4% of families had no savings or other liquid assets in 2011, up from 18.5% two years earlier. But the number of families with more than $50,000 in liquid assets also grew to 14.6%, up from 11.8%.
And the number of families who owe at least $30,000 in credit card and other debts grew to 10%, up from 8.5%. Part of this increase is the jump in student loans.
"It's a classic response to economic uncertainty," Stafford said. "But the problem is that today only those families who have more than $50,000 in liquid assets have actually been able to do this to any extent. The rest of American families are simply treading water, if they're lucky."
Attention teenagers: If you had trouble landing a summer job last year, chances are your job search this year won't be much better.
Only one in 10 hiring managers say they'll hire more staff this summer, while 16% say they'll hire fewer, according to Snagajob, an hourly employment network for job seekers and employers.
A mere 29% think it will be "easy" for teens to find a summer job this year.
The overwhelming MORETami Luhby - Mar 27, 2012 8:07 AM ET
States lowered taxes by $2 billion last year -- the first such reduction in 10 years.
But don't be fooled into thinking states were back in the black financially. Despite facing collective shortfalls exceeding $100 billion, strong anti-tax sentiment has led many states to slash tax levies.
Taxes dropped after states allowed several temporary measures to expire, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These hikes had been enacted to boost MORETami Luhby - Mar 19, 2012 10:36 AM ET
Landing a new job is not easy if you are 50+ and unemployed.
While it's less likely for an older American to be unemployed, once they lose their job, the future is grimmer.
More than half of older unemployed workers were out of a job for more than six months in 2011, according to a new study from the National Employment Law Project. And four in 10 were jobless for at least MORETami Luhby - Mar 9, 2012 12:06 PM ET
Today's college grads are earning far less than their older siblings coming out of school.
Entry level wages for male college graduates fell to an average of $21.68 an hour last year, down 11% from 2001, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning group.
Women, meanwhile, saw their average hourly wage drop to $18.80, down 7.6%.
"Young college graduates who finished their education in the last five years MORETami Luhby - Mar 7, 2012 4:53 PM ET
Even though the national economy is on the upswing, many Americans haven't been reaping the benefits.
In fact, the median household income in January was $50,020, or 5.4% lower than it was in June 2009, the beginning of the economic recovery, according to a new estimate from Sentier Research, based on Census data.
This decline in income comes despite improvements in the job market. The unemployment rate stood to 8.3% in January, MORETami Luhby - Mar 6, 2012 12:16 PM ET
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