A U.S. federal agency's first-ever survey has found that over a third of Americans struggle to pay their bills for food, shelter or health care. The study found that education was a key factor in determining a person's financial stability.
On Sept. 26, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released the findings of its nationwide survey of Americans' financial well-being. The study marked the first time the U.S. government surveyed Americans on their financial health.
The CFPB survey, conducted during 2016, found that over 40 percent of U.S. adults feel a financial pinch to keep up with their bills, and 34 percent of respondents struggled to afford basic necessities such groceries, housing or medical care, Reuters reports.
"A large percent of people are financially fragile," the report's authors stated. "Overall, we find that the financial well-being of U.S. adults varies widely."
Survey respondents were given a score ranging from 1 to 100 based on their answers to a CFPB questionnaire, with a score of 50 or below indicating financial struggle. The survey found that the average U.S. adult had a score of 54, according to MarketWatch.
The survey found that income did not necessarily correlate with financial well-being. Some national adults with lower incomes had better financial health than some adults with higher incomes. The study's authors concluded that savings played a bigger role than income in determining a person's financial health.
The study found that a person's level of education was the biggest predictor of their financial well-being. Age and physical health were also key indicators, along with race. Respondents who were non-Hispanic Caucasians tended to have better financial health than every other racial group.
On Sept. 27, the U.S. Federal Reserve released the latest findings of its Survey of Consumer Finances, a survey that is conducted every three years. Their study found that American households' average income had risen by 14 percent between 2013 and 2016. Meanwhile, median income rose by 10 percent over the same timeframe, the American Bankers Association reports.
In September, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) found in its annual census that 12 percent of Americans in 2016 had low food security, or a lack of access to adequate nutrition, according to Fast Company.
On Oct. 6, a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that 12.7 percent of Americans were living in poverty.