A survey released today shows that 36% of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck. The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive and published by Careerbuilder.com.
In addition to the 36% of Americans who report most always living paycheck to paycheck, 40% of Americans said they are sometimes forced to do the same. Just 24% of respondents said they never have to live paycheck to paycheck.
While these numbers paint a discouraging picture of the American economy, they are actually an improvement from years past. In 2008, at the peak of the recession, 46% of Americans lived paycheck to paycheck. In 2012, 40% did.
On the bright side – relatively speaking, at least – 82% of Americans reportedly were able to make ends meet in each month of the past year, an increase of two percentage points from the year before.
Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of human resources at CareerBuilder, spoke at a press release about the trends found in the survey.
“The financial situation for many households remains a struggle, but year-after-year fewer workers report living paycheck to paycheck -- a sign that job security and spending power may be on the rise as the labor market continues to improve,” Haefner said. “More workers are saving their earnings on a monthly basis than last year, and 70 percent feel they are more fiscally responsible post-recession. As more workers join the ranks of the gainfully employed, we expect these positive trends to continue.”
The survey also asked participants which expenses they refuse to live without. 55% said internet was an essential expense, 40% said driving was, and 36% reported that their pet was. Smart phones (29%), cable (24%), and travel (10%) rounded out the top six responses on the list.
The survey supports the findings of previous studies showing that executive-level employees are the main beneficiaries of the economic recovery. Four years into the recover, U.S. worker wages are not stagnant. Rather, they are actually failing to keep up with inflation. At the same time, CEO’s are making 273 times as much as the average employee in their company. This figure has risen by over 1000% since 1950, when CEO’s made 20 times what the average employee in their company made.
One last fun fact. Though worker wages have dropped consistently over the last decade, worker productivity has increased by over 25%. With wages dropping while productivity increases, it should come as no surprise that corporate profit margins are approaching near record highs.