President Obama visits Phoenix, Ariz today to announce details of a plan to avert home foreclosures, a problem at the center of the economic downturn and one directly affecting the one-in-five Americans who now say they have had trouble paying their rent or mortgage in the past year. That proportion has climbed from 14% in January 2008. While financial concerns have been rising among the relatively well-off, difficulty in making housing payments — as well as medical care payments, credit card concerns and pay cuts — is still concentrated among lower-income Americans. A third of Americans earning below $30,000 cite troubles making housing payments in the last year, compared with 21% of Americans earning between $30,000 and $75,000 and just 6% of Americans earning above $75,000. Still, only 8% of Americans say housing is the most important problem facing the economy. Jobs (42%) far surpass all other concerns regarding the economic crisis. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.