America’s workers are existing on the edge of financial disaster: 40 percent say they live paycheck to paycheck, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. Worse, 37 percent say they sometimes need to rely on the next payday to make ends meet. Although the percentage of those literally living for payday has decreased from 42 percent in 2011 and from 46 percent in 2008, the height of the recession, this is not good news (click on chart to enlarge).
In addition, the survey found:
Women (44 percent) are more likely than men (36 percent) to live paycheck to paycheck. One quarter (25 percent) of female workers missed a monthly payment at least once in the past year, compared to 17 percent of men.
More than a quarter of workers (27 percent) do not save anything each month. Thirty percent save more than $250 and one in ten (10 percent) save more than $1,000.
CareerBuilder, the nation’s largest online job site, also found that those most likely to live paycheck to paycheck are between ages 45 and 54 (43 percent).
Huff/Post50 looked at the reasons why this age group would have the toughest time making ends meet.
There’s the squeeze of supporting children and family (one survey found that 90 percent of boomers shoulder this load) and the fact that a quarter of Americans age 50 and up used up all of their savings during the recession years of 2007 through 2009. Health also affects one's ability to make ends meet. Injury and illness are the biggest causes of personal debt for 40- to 59-year-olds, according to an AOL Jobs article.
Still, whether 40 percent or 43 percent of working people live from paycheck to paycheck, either percentage is far too high for a nation this rich. There’s something more going on.
The declining standard of living for middle- and working-class Americans is no accident. U.S. trade policies depleted our nation’s manufacturing base. Federal tax policies promoted inequality and rewarded wealth over work, leaving us without enough money to fund our public infrastructure or the education and training we need in a global economy. And some employers and lawmakers have made conscious and coordinated efforts to delegitimize government and destroy unions to take away working people’s ability to stand up to corporate excess.
The Romney/Ryan ticket, with its support for offshoring jobs, massive tax cuts to the massively wealthy and calls to defund core public programs like bridge and street maintenance, education, Social Security and Medicare, would further financially sink America’s middle- and working-class.
The thought of how many U.S. workers would be living paycheck to paycheck at the end of a Romney administration is chilling.