The stock market continues to hit record highs, inflation supposedly remains low, states like Kansas and Missouri keep cutting taxes and a lot of corporations are reporting good earnings.
So why do Joe and Josephine Sixpack feel so squeezed? A lot of costs are shifting back to consumers, and the burden is regressive. So people with the least ability are having to spend more of their dollars just to get by.
Housing since the Great Recession remains a problem. The online real estate database Zillow reports that in the first three months of the year, 18.8 percent of homeowners owed more on their mortgages than their properties would sell for. That’s not good when a lot of people use the equity in their homes to take out additional loans to make repairs, finance their kids’ college or to buy things.
That bank for Joe and Josephine Sixpack remains busted. Apartment living apparently isn’t much better.
Rents have climbed to a monthly average of $1,136.88, Axiometrics Inc., a property-research firm, reports. That’s up 3.4 percent in April from a year earlier, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press report.
High rents normally prod apartment dwellers to buy homes, but that door for a lot of people isn’t labeled, “Opportunity, please knock,” with so many folks being underwater on their mortgages.