Is your family forced to count down the days each month until the next paycheck arrives? If so, you’re part of a staggering, and growing, majority of households in America, the richest country on the planet, that is forced to do the same.
According to a new poll conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder, over three-quarters of American households are forced to live paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet.
More than three-quarters of workers (78 percent) are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet — up from 75 percent last year and a trait more common in women than men — 81 vs. 75 percent, according to new CareerBuilder research. Thirty-eight percent of employees said they sometimes live paycheck-to-paycheck, 17 percent said they usually do and 23 percent said they always do.
Having a higher salary doesn’t necessarily mean money woes are behind you, with nearly one in 10 workers making $100,000 or more (9 percent) saying they usually or always live paycheck-to-paycheck and 59 percent in that income bracket in debt. Twenty-eight percent of workers making $50,000-$99,999 usually or always live paycheck to paycheck, 70 percent are in debt; and 51 percent of those making less than $50,000 usually or always live paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet, 73 percent are in debt.
Not surprisingly, the problem is even worse for minimum wage workers, 54% of whom say they have to work more than 1 job to cover their monthly expenditures.
The majority of workers (81 percent) have worked a minimum wage job, and 71 percent of them were not able to make ends meet financially during that time — more than half (54 percent) had to work more than one job.
To alleviate some financial burden, 83 percent of employers that are hiring minimum wage workers this year (45 percent) will be raising the minimum wage at their organization.
Meanwhile, 57% of households say they can’t afford to save even $100 a month.
Less than a third of workers (32 percent) stick to a clearly defined budget and a slight majority (56 percent) save $100 or less a month:
- None: 26 percent
- Less than $50: 15 percent
- $51 to $100: 16 percent
- $101 to $250: 14 percent
- $251 to $500: 11 percent
- $501 to $750: 5 percent
- $751 to $1,000: 4 percent
- More than $1,000: 10 percent
The scariest part of the poll, as CBS points out, is that the number of people living paycheck to paycheck is actually growing despite the fact that the Fed and our politicians continue to brag about near ‘full employment.’
The survey highlights a troubling trend in household finances: More than eight years since the end of the recession, the share of Americans who are living on the financial edge is growing, said Mike Erwin, a spokesman for CareerBuilder. While some may want to blame Americans’ spendthrift ways, Erwin pointed to two trends that continue to put financial stress on households: stagnant wages and the rising cost of everything from education to many consumer goods.
“Living paycheck to paycheck is the new way of life for U.S. workers,” he said. “It’s not just one salary range. It’s pretty much across the board, and it’s trending in the wrong direction.”
A year ago, about 75 percent of U.S. workers said they were living from payday to payday, a number that has grown to 78 percent this year. The study, conducted by Harris Poll, surveyed nearly 2,400 hiring and human resource managers and 3,500 adult employees who worked full-time in May and June.
Meanwhile, employers seems to see straight through the ‘full employment’ charade because wage growth continues to be completely nonexistent…an outcome that would seem inconceivable in an under-supplied market.
Weak wage growth is partly to blame for the financial stress felt by many Americans. Median household income is still stuck in low gear, with the U.S. Census reporting only one year of income gains since 2007, the year the recession officially started.
The end result: American households are still earning 2.4 percent below what they brought home at their income peaks in 1999. At the same time, expenses for food, fuel, education, housing and other costs have risen.
“Jobs have come back, but we haven’t seen salaries rebound,” Erwin said. “Right now we are in a time when the cost of living is way outpacing the amount of money that people are getting through raises.”
Of course, the real question is precisely how many of these households live in a McMansion that’s 2x larger than what they need for their family and drive around in brand new BMWs that get replaced with new leases every 3 years?