The nation's largest private employee assistance program reported this week that for the first time in several decades, housing overtook child care as the top reason thousands of workers called asking for help.
ComPsych reported that queries related to moving rose 14% in the first half of this year compared to the previous six months, illustrating the hardships even the employed are suffering because of a continued downturn in the nation's housing market.
"The surprise was the moving calls outpaced the child-care calls for the first time since we've been in business," said Jennifer Hudson, a spokeswoman for the 26-year-old firm.
The firm received 10,250 calls from employees requesting assistance with housing, compared with 8,000 calls related to child-care issues.
Employees who have lost homes to foreclosures, as well as those who are searching for smaller apartments or more affordable housing, caused the spike in housing-related calls, according to the ComPsych report.
Even as the percentage of foreclosures dropped in the second quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, short-term delinquencies were on the rise in what some see as a sign that another wave of foreclosures could be close at hand.
Almost three out of four calls to ComPsych concerned finding a cheap apartment, with 6% asking for financial assistance and 5% for help in researching local utilities and other amenities. The remaining questions dealt with shelter, buying a home and other relocation needs, according to the report.
Employees are also facing other financial stressors, including caring for elderly relatives, and health care issues. Elder-care related calls to ComPsych through June increased 23% over the previous six months, with health-care questions increasing 11%. Low-cost care led the list of information requests.
ComPsych serves more than 13,000 organizations that employ more than 33 million people in the U.S. and 100 countries.
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