Despite booming economy, millions of Americans still on hard times

The recession and financial crisis of 2008 never ended for many cash-strapped Americans.

While the economy and stock market are booming, and many Americans are enjoying the benefits, others are headed for financial disaster.

That’s the warning of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

In a new report, the AICPA notes that despite a strong economy, millions of Americans still have credit and saving problems.

“These people have a false sense of security,” said Russ Zalatimo, an adviser.

He reviewed the data and worries that people have forgotten the economic disasters of 2008.

“They think because the sun is shining, it will always shine,” he said. “They don’t understand that they should be ready for bad times.”

Indeed, the AICPA study found that some live on the financial edge.

“A record 7 million Americans are three months behind on their car payments, even more than during the financial crisis,” the AICPA said. It cited the recent Federal Reserve Household Debt and Credit report.

The central bank numbers show car delinquency payment rates have been gradually rising over several years.

“This is alarming for many Americans because they depend on their cars to make a living and to pay their bills,” said Sean Stein Smith, a member of the AICPA’s Financial Literacy Commission.

Car loans have been growing over several years, the Fed said.

“Auto loan originations totaled $584 billion in 2018, the highest year in the 19-year history of the data for auto loan originations and an increase from 2017’s $567 billion,” the Fed said.

Another worrisome sign, advisers say, is the inability to pay off card debt each month. That means the cardholder is often paying 20 percent interest on top of the debt.

Some are even in worse shape because they are hardly paying down debts each month.

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