npr.org: Opioid Crisis Takes A Toll On Economic Outlook For Many Americans, Fed Says

5/24/2018

 

 

A volunteer cleans up needles used for drug injection that were found at a homeless encampment in Everett, Wash., in November. Respondents in a Federal Reserve survey who knew someone who had been addicted to opioids were less likely to give the economy a favorable rating.

Ted S. Warren/AP

One out of five Americans say they personally know someone who has been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers, according to a new report about the economic well-being of U.S. households.

The Federal Reserve report, based on a national survey, also found that exposure to opioid addiction was twice as likely among whites, regardless of education level, as among African-Americans.

Survey respondents who knew someone who had been addicted to opioids were less likely to give the national or local economy a favorable rating.

It was the first time the Fed has included questions about opioid addiction in its annual survey, which began in 2013.

Economists are taking seriously the idea that opioid abuse and addiction are having an impact on the economy. Alan Krueger, a professor of economics at Princeton University, found in an August 2017 report that as much as 20 percent of the decline of male participation in the labor force could be related to opioid abuse.

Other parts of the Fed's new report showed incremental improvement on most issues: 74 percent of adults surveyed said they were doing "okay" or "living comfortably" in 2017. That's up from 60 percent in 2013.

Most workers were satisfied with their wages and benefits last year, and less than a fifth of working adults were pessimistic about future employment opportunities.

Still, there were areas of concern. Many adults surveyed said they don't have enough savings to cover an unexpected financial setback of $400 without having to borrow or sell something.

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