• Record Number of Americans Living in Poverty

    While the Census Bureau reported that there are 46.6 million people, or 15.1 percent of Americans, living poverty in 2010 under the decades-old official measure that considers only food costs and before-tax income, a new formula is trying to provide a fuller picture. The Associated Press reported on November 7, 2011, that a supplemental measure from the Census Bureau shows a record 49.1 million Americans, or 16 percent, lived in poverty in 2010.

    With millions of Americans needing foreclosure help or considering bankruptcy , the new measure takes a variety of expenses into consideration, including food, shelter, clothing and utilities, as well as accounting for different sources of income like food stamps and housing subsidies. According to the AP, Americans 65 or older sustained the largest increases in poverty when broken down by groups under the revised poverty formula, nearly doubling to 15.9 percent. Medical expenses such as rising Medicare premiums, deductibles and expenses for prescription drugs are not accounted for in the official rate.

    The AP noted that economists and anti-poverty experts “continue to differ widely on how best to calculate poverty,” and the Census Bureau acknowledged that its new measure remains a “work in progress.” You do not need to be formally recognized as living in poverty in order to pass the bankruptcy means test , but our Chicago bankruptcy lawyer can show you how filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy could very well be the fresh start you need to get back on your feet.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorney

  • Illinois Will Need Jobs to Recover From Housing Crisis

    Illinois will be one of the last states to recover from the housing crisis, the Chicago Tribune reported on November 4, 2011. Economists with the trade group the National Association of Home Builders said that unlike the problems holding back Arizona and Nevada, recovery for Illinois will hinge on jobs. Unemployment in the state rose to 10 percent in September, the first time the rate hit double digits since August 2010.

    According to the Tribune, the average number of single-family housing starts in Illinois was 44,431 annually from 2000 to 2003. After housing starts bottomed out at 17 percent of their normal level in 2009, Illinois builders will be constructing 27 percent of the normal range by the end of next year and starts will grow to 42 percent of normal activity by 2013.

    The good news to come out of the forecast would have to be that more consumers are purchasing homes that are much more affordable. Many of those now seeking foreclosure help purchased homes that were as much as five times their income, but the Tribune noted that the trend is “back to more realistic levels as a result of lower home values and tight credit underwriting.” David Crowe, chief economist of the builders’ group, told the Tribune, “There does seem to be some resettling of house prices down to what people can afford.”

    One would certainly hope that the trend could reduce the number of consumers needing to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, although there remains a significant number of families for whom that may remain the best option. If you are in dire straits financially, contact our Chicago bankruptcy lawyer to see how our firm can help.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorney