The state of the economy is a concern for most Americans, particularly if they are worried about their financial future. The good news is that unemployment has dropped below 4 percent for the first time since 2000. The bad news is that, despite the thin labor pool, the jobs just aren’t paying enough.

43 percent of families can’t afford a middle class life

According to a United Way Alice study, an astounding 51 million households (or 43 percent of American families) do not earn enough money to afford a basic middle class lifestyle that includes food, housing, health care, childcare, transportation and even the ubiquitous cell phone.

This should come as no surprise to those who work in such traditionally low-paying jobs as store clerks, home health care assistants, childcare workers and office assistants. The study goes on to point out that 66 percent of jobs in America pay less than $20 per hour.

County breakdown

The study’s county-by-county analysis is forthcoming but the initial news was not any better. For instance, the survival budget for young family of four in Seattle’s King County was determined to be almost $85,000. This would require a wage of more than $42 dollars an hour, but only 14 percent of the jobs in that county met or surpassed that wage.

Bankruptcy is an option

These findings will not be good news for many hard-working Americans who simply cannot cover their basic bills. Working with an experienced bankruptcy attorney can provide relief to families who feel like they are slowly drowning in debt. Filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 can provide a new start.