Economic Statistics to Keep You Up at Night

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Numbers reveal rises in evictions and “economically insecure” Americans, the disturbingly small percentage of consumers who are actually able to understand their credit card agreements, and how the poor subsidize the credit card reward programs enjoyed by the rich. Come to think of it, those last two might be somehow related.

$23 vs. $756 A study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, cited in Times’ Bucks blog, says that because of the retail markups associated with credit card usage and rewards programs, the poor essentially subsidize the rich:

After accounting for rewards paid to households by banks, the researchers concluded that the lowest income household (those making less than $20,000 a year) pays $23 a year, while the highest income household (those making $150,000 or more annually) receives a subsidy of $756 every year.

At least 20% That’s a low estimate of Americans who can be categorized as “economically insecure,” a phrase that applies to anyone whose household income has decreased by at least 25% in a year, discussed in a Bob Herbert column. In the post-recession mid-1980s, only 12% of Americans were “economically insecure.”

52% Sick of gridlock and eager to escape their cars, just over half of suburbanites in the Chicago area say they’d prefer more money be spent on public transportation as opposed to roads and highways, per a Tribune survey. This is a big change: In 1999, only 34% of Chicago suburbanites favored public transit over roads.

80% Four out of five adults cannot understand credit card agreements, according to a study. No wonder so many consumers are shocked when they get hit with fees and sky-high interest rates—that is, they’re shocked if they’re actually aware the charges have been assessed.

127% According to census data analyzed by USA Today, the number of households that moved in the past year because of evictions was counted at 191,000—a rise of 127% from the year before.

12.4 That’s the average number of months old of new-but-unsold homes in the U.S. as of June, according to Floyd Norris. The fact that brand-new homes are selling after sitting on the market for a little over a year is actually an improvement: From March through May, the average age of new-but-unsold homes was over 14 months.

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