More than two-thirds in U.S. live paycheck to paycheck: survey

SAN ANTONIO Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:40pm EDT

A crowd of onlookers are gathered outside the historic Federal Hall where U.S. President Barack Obama was speaking in the heart of Wall Street in New York, September 14, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing

A crowd of onlookers are gathered outside the historic Federal Hall where U.S. President Barack Obama was speaking in the heart of Wall Street in New York, September 14, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - More than two-thirds of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck, according to a survey released on Wednesday by the American Payroll Association.

The survey of 30,600 people found that 68 percent said it would be somewhat difficult or very difficult if their paychecks were delayed for a week. These results show Americans are still struggling with the recession's effects, the association said.

"This study clearly shows that Americans are finding it hard to save," said Dan Maddux, executive director of the San Antonio-based association of payroll managers.

In 2006, 65 percent of respondents reported living paycheck to paycheck, a figure that shot up to 72 percent in 2010 in the wake of the recession.

The survey was released during a week when a video of Republican Mitt Romney sparked a national conversation about the 47 percent of Americans who, Romney told donors, don't pay income taxes and are dependent on government.

Tracy Martinez knows the feeling of living paycheck to paycheck.

The San Antonio woman has a college degree. She and her husband both work, but Martinez still holds her breath that she won't have any emergencies come up, especially in the days right before payday.

"It seems like all the money goes away so quickly," she said. "It's kind of scary."

Wendy Kowalik, president of the San Antonio financial planning firm Predico Partners, called the study "disturbing, but not surprising."

Saving money is becoming more difficult, if not impossible, for more U.S. workers, Kowalik said.

"All of us in the industry are seeing it more often, that more and more clients are unable to save for the future," she said.

The main reason Kowalik's clients live paycheck to paycheck is that they have come to see luxuries as essential expenses, she said.

"Cable used to be a luxury. Now it's expected," she said. "People have an expectation that they should have a mobile phone, you should be able to have the Internet. People are going to have to change their outlook and put things into perspective."

The American Payroll Association, a trade group for more than 20,000 people who prepare checks, said it conducted the online survey between May and September 7. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percent.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Jan Paschal)

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Comments (19)
iq160 wrote:
“This study clearly shows that Americans are finding it hard to save,” said Dan Maddux, executive director of the San Antonio-based association of payroll managers.

That says it all: They find it hard to save. Not impossible, just hard. Having to put off designer clothes, $250 fingernail paintings, jewelry, that new car (how many Lexus’ do you think people really can afford?) …

When I started working, I started with $25/month deducted from my paycheck. With every raise, I increased that amount. Instead of letting my expenses consume my income, I set aside money BEFORE buying luxuries. Too many people confuse luxury with necessity, and too few are willing to go without that luxury.

I’d bet that the number of people that HAVE TO live paycheck to paycheck is well less than half that number.

Sep 19, 2012 5:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
flashrooster wrote:
iq60: “That says it all: They find it hard to save. Not impossible, just hard. Having to put off designer clothes, $250 fingernail paintings, jewelry, that new car (how many Lexus’ do you think people really can afford?)”

Obviously a Romney supporter, eh? He has the same myopic, arrogant attitude toward working people. The FACT that wages have been stagnant for the past 3 decades, and have more recently begun to decline, while the cost of everything has risen dramatically doesn’t seem to penetrate your egocentric skulls. The FACT that most Americans have seen their net worth, including the value of their homes, drop significantly, forcing millions to turn to their savings just to get by doesn’t enter into your “analysis” of us lowlife Americans.

What is it with you people? You seem to hate everyone. Working class Americans are just your latest targets of scorn de jour.

Millions of hard working Americans are struggling to put food on their tables, to pay their bills, to keep their cars running, to help with the kids’ college expense, to pay for their absurdly high cost of healthcare. It’s not about buying a new Lexus. You people are just detached from reality. You obviously haven’t a clue about the real world.

Sep 19, 2012 5:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
alrphfool wrote:
Maybe now is a good time to change the slogan from the land of the free to the land of the poor and dispossessed.

Sep 19, 2012 6:35pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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