Benefits and Compensation, Talent

Workers’ Financial Woes

Living paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet is a way of life for a majority of U.S. workers. And minimum wage workers aren’t the only ones struggling financially.

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Even some people making $100,000 per year or more live paycheck to paycheck, according to a new survey from CareerBuilder, a provider of human capital solutions.

Survey Findings

More than three-quarters of workers, 78 percent, are living paycheck to paycheck. This includes 38 percent of employees who say they sometimes live paycheck to paycheck, 17 percent who usually do, and 23 percent who always do.
The trait is more common in women than men, 81 percent vs. 75 percent.
The national survey, which was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from May 24 to June 16, 2017, includes representative samples of 2,369 full-time employers and 3,462 full-time U.S. workers across industries and company sizes in the private sector.

Higher Salaries, Similar Problems

The survey finds that having a higher salary doesn’t necessarily mean money problems are behind you. Nearly one in 10 workers making $100,000 or more (9 percent) say they usually or always live paycheck to paycheck, and 59 percent in that income bracket indicate they are in debt.
Twenty-eight percent of workers making $50,000 to $99,999 usually or always live paycheck to paycheck, and 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, and 73 percent are in debt.
The survey offers important insight for employers.
“As an employer, your employees’ financial problems become your financial problems,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “If workers are constantly thinking about their financial struggles, their quality of work can decrease, and it can take a hit on their morale and productivity. If you do what you can to help people keep their finances under control – by doing things such as matching 401(k) contributions or hosting financial planning seminars – you’ll ease some of their financial worries and it will be less likely to have a negative impact on your business.”

Dealing with Debt

The survey also finds that debt is a growing issue for workers. One-quarter of workers, 25 percent, have not been able to make ends meet every month in the last year, and 20 percent have missed payment on some smaller bills. Further, 71 percent of all workers say they’re in debt. While 46 percent say their debt is manageable, more than half of those in debt, 56 percent, say they feel they will always be in debt.
Also worth noting is that 18 percent of all workers have reduced their 401(k) contribution and/or personal savings in the last year; more than one-third, 38 percent, do not contribute to a 401(k), IRA or comparable retirement plan; and 26 percent have not set aside any savings each month in the last year.
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.
Here is a breakdown of employee savings amounts on a monthly basis by percentage of respondents.

  • 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