Tags: Weak | Economy | Pay | funerals

Weak Economy Strips Families of Ability to Pay for Funerals

Friday, 16 Sep 2011 12:56 AM

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In today's economy, cutting household costs means everything — even if it means not paying to properly say goodbye.

Coroners' offices say they've seen an increase in the number of unclaimed bodies, according to the National Association of Medical Examiners, as a weak economy and the high cost of funerals are making it impossible for more to bury loved ones, USA Today reports.

Johnnetta Moore, administrator for the indigent burial program in Jacksonville, says the economy is to blame for an upswing in cremations of indigent people this spring.

"We've all seen an increase," she says of hers and other indigent burial programs in Florida.

Others agree the trend is disturbing.

"The reality is, it's gotten worse," says Jacqueline Byers, director of research and outreach for the National Association of Counties.

Counties, meanwhile, are turning more and more to cremations to save on costs.

"It's hitting everybody at the wrong time," Byers says.

Households are still loathe to spend these days thanks to economic uncertainty that does not appear to be abating any time soon.

Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the U.S. economy, and with family purse strings tight due to high unemployment, stock-market volatility and a host of other reasons, retails sales are staggering.

Retail sales in the U.S. were flat in August after rising 0.3 percent in July due to a bleak jobs market and limited income growth, according to Commerce Department figures.

"Consumers are being more cautious given all the economic headwinds," says Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, according to Bloomberg.

"Policy makers have to be focused on growth because growth seems to have come close to stalling in August."

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