Share of U.S. Workers Living Paycheck to Paycheck Continues Decline from Recession-Era Peak, Finds Annual CareerBuilder Survey
- Women more likely than men to live paycheck to paycheck; gap widening
- Survey asks what workers would never give up regardless of finances
PR Newswire

CHICAGO, Sept. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The number of U.S. workers dependent on their next pay day to make ends meet continues its decline from the height of the financial crisis, according to an annual CareerBuilder survey. Thirty-six percent of workers report that they always or usually live paycheck to paycheck, a recession-era low down from its peak of 46 percent in 2008. In 2012, 40 percent of workers reported they always or usually live paycheck to paycheck.

The nationwide survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive© from May 14 to June 5, 20l3, among a representative sample of nearly 3,000 full-time, private sector U.S. workers, found that 24 percent of workers never live paycheck to paycheck, while 40 percent state they sometimes do. Eighty-two percent of workers were able to make ends meet every month in the last year, an increase of two percentage points from 2012.

One-in-five workers have missed payments in the past year, with 16 percent reporting they have missed payments on smaller bills and four percent indicating they missed payments on mortgages or other large financial obligations.  

"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," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "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."

Savings and Retirement
A quarter (25 percent) of workers does not set aside anything for savings each month, an improvement over 27 percent last year. Thirty-one percent save more than $250 and 10 percent save more than $1,000 per month.

Sixty-five percent participate in a 401(k), IRA, or other comparable retirement plan, down from 67 percent last year. However, fewer workers have had to reduce their contributions to retirement plans or personal savings -- 17 percent in 2013, compared to 20 percent in 2012.  

Most Valued Expenses
Nearly half of workers (49 percent) have cut back on leisure activities and more than a third stopped eating out (36 percent) or drove less (34 percent) to help balance budgets in the last year. But despite attempts to save more and spend less, there are several expenses that some workers say they will not give up regardless of financial concerns:

  • Internet connection: 55 percent
  • Driving: 40 percent
  • Pet: 36 percent
  • Smart phone: 29 percent
  • Cable: 24 percent
  • Travel: 10 percent
  • Going out to eat: 9 percent

Smart phones switched places with cable from last year's rankings, which may suggest media preferences are changing and always-on work schedules may be gaining prominence among workers.

Paycheck to Paycheck by Gender, Age and Salary

The percentage of those living paycheck to paycheck varies by segment and demographics:

Gender: Consistent with past studies, women are more likely than men to report living paycheck to paycheck, but the gap appears to be widening despite declines for both genders. Forty-one percent of women and 31 percent of men always or usually live paycheck to paycheck, down from 44 and 36 percent in 2012, respectively.

Age: Compared to other age groups, workers closer to retirement (55+) are least likely to report living paycheck to paycheck.   

  • 25-34 – 37 percent
  • 35-44 – 37 percent
  • 45-54 – 39 percent
  • 55+ – 32 percent

Salary: The likelihood of living paycheck to paycheck naturally decreases for respondents with higher salaries. Eleven percent of workers making $100,000 or more usually or always live paycheck to paycheck, down from 12 percent last year and 17 percent in 2010. Thirty-one percent of workers making $50,000-$99,999 and 53 percent of those making less than $50,000 usually or always live paycheck to paycheck.  

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,999 workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between May 14 and June 5, 2013 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 2,999 one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.79 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies. For full survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact

About CareerBuilder®
CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract great talent. Its online career site,®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors, 1 million jobs and 50 million resumes. CareerBuilder works with the world's top employers, providing resources for everything from employment branding and talent and compensation intelligence to recruitment solutions. More than 10,000 websites, including 140 newspapers and broadband portals such as MSN and AOL, feature CareerBuilder's proprietary job search technology on their career sites. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

Media Contact
Ryan Hunt

SOURCE CareerBuilder