Significant Number of Renters Still Behind on Rent in September

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released an analysis of the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey for September 2 to September 14, which finds millions of households continuing to struggle to pay their rent and afford food. One in four renters with children was behind on rent in September, and nearly 11% of all adults reported that their household sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the previous seven days.

The Census Bureau made changes to the Household Pulse Survey in late August, complicating comparisons with earlier survey results. The new version includes changes in the wording of some questions, and the survey has become twice as long, so fewer respondents are answering questions about housing hardship. Despite these caveats, CBPP notes the survey shows many people are struggling.

Seventeen percent of adult renters (13 million people) lived in a household not caught up on rent. Renters of color were more likely to be behind: 12% of white renters, compared to 22% of Latino renters, and 25% of Black renters. Households with children were twice as likely as households without children to be behind on rent.

Nearly 11% of all adults reported that their household sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the past seven days. By comparison, a pre-pandemic survey in 2019 found just 3.7% of adults reported not having enough to eat. Black and Latino adults were more than twice as likely to report not having enough. The CBPP provides a state-level analysis of where food hardship rates are highest.

The report also includes analysis of job losses between February and August, using the Census Bureau’s monthly Current Population Survey. Job losses were concentrated among workers in low-paid industries and among those who do not have a four-year college degree. Thirty-five million people were unemployed or lived with an unemployed family member in August. The official definition of unemployment excludes furloughed workers and those who are not currently seeking work. When those groups are included, the authors find that as many as 61 million people, nearly 1 in 5 people in the country, live in families with a sidelined worker—those who are unemployed, absent from their jobs without pay, or those who want to work but are not currently looking, because of ill health, family responsibilities, childcare, or other reasons.

CBPP’s analysis can be found at: