Majority of US Workers Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck

September 21, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | CPG & FMCG | Financial Services | Household Income | Retail & E-Commerce

More than six in? 10 (61%) of US workers live paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to a new study sponsored by Among workers earning $100K a year or more, the percentage drops to 30%.

Despite the lower numbers for those with higher incomes, the percentage of workers who say they usually or always live paycheck-to-paycheck has risen both among the general population and more affluent workers. The overall percentage has risen from 49% in 2008. For workers earning $100K or more, it has risen from 21% in 2008, reports Retailer Daily.

The study also indicated that many workers are cutting back or eliminating retirement plans and other savings in order to pay for current expenses. Two in 10 (21%) of overall respondents have reduced contributions to retirement plans or personal savings in the last six months, and 23% of respondents earning more than $100K have done so.

Moreover, 36% of overall respondents do not participate in any retirement plan at all, and 33% put no money aside for personal savings each month. Another 30% save $100 or less each month and 16% save $50 or less each month, the study found.

Paycheck Relief Not Forthcoming

Larger paychecks are not likely to remedy this situation anytime soon. The results from this survey are consistent with’s Q3 forecast report (pdf), which found 47% of companies did not expect salaries for full-time, permanent employees to rise in Q309, and 28% said they would increase only 1%-3%.


Though the most recent American Express Spending and Saving Tracker found that a majority of consumers are likely to maintain or increase current spending levels in the next 30 days and that affluents and young professionals are most optimistic about the economy, the general population reports a willingness to spend more only on essentials such as groceries and car maintenance. Moreover, consumers at all income levels have little desire to start holiday shopping early this year.

About the survey: This survey was conducted online within the US by Harris Interactive on behalf of among 4,478 US workers (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government); ages 18+. Fieldwork took place May 22-June 10, 2009.

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