Two Thirds of Minimum Wage Workers Can't Make Ends Meet, CareerBuilder Survey Finds
- 50 percent of minimum wage workers say they have to work more than one job to make ends meet
- Three quarters of all employees feel they live paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet at least sometimes; nearly a quarter feel they always do
- Nearly seven in 10 workers say they're in debt
PR Newswire

CHICAGO, Aug. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Three-quarters of Americans (75 percent) are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to a survey from CareerBuilder. Thirty-eight percent of employees said they sometimes live paycheck-to-paycheck, 15 percent said they usually do and 23 percent said they always do. While making ends meet is a struggle for many post-recession, those with minimum wage jobs continue to be hit the hardest. Of workers who currently have a minimum wage job or have held one in the past, 66 percent said they couldn't make ends meet and 50 percent said they had to work more than one job to make it work.

More than 3,200 full-time workers and more than 2,100 full-time hiring and human resource managers in the private sector across industries participated in the nationwide survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from May 11 to June 7, 2016.


It's not just minimum wage workers who are struggling. Nineteen percent of workers at all salary levels were not able to make ends meet every month during the past year, and while the likelihood of living paycheck-to-paycheck naturally decreases for workers with higher salaries, it's affecting all salary ranges. Nine percent of workers making $100,000 or more feel they usually or always live paycheck-to-paycheck. Twenty-three percent of workers making $50,000-$99,999, and 51 percent of those making less than $50,000 feel they usually or always do to make ends meet.

Further, 68 percent of all workers say they're in debt, and while most (46 percent) say it's manageable, it should be noted that 16 percent of all workers have reduced their 401k contribution and/or personal savings in the last year, more than a third (36 percent) do not participate in a 401k plan, IRA or comparable retirement plan, and 25 percent have not set aside any savings each month in the last year.

While the majority of employees (66 percent) say they feel more fiscally responsible since the recession, many still feel defeated. Of employees in debt, the majority (55 percent) feel they will always be in debt and site having these debts:

  • Credit card: 64 percent
  • Auto loan: 47 percent
  • Mortgage: 45 percent
  • Student loan: 31 percent
  • Loans from friends or family: 10 percent
  • Tax debt: 8 percent
  • Other: 14 percent

Employers Take a Stance 
This year employers think minimum wage should be raised more than ever before. Only 5 percent of all employers believe the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) is fair. The majority (67 percent) feel a fair minimum wage is $10 or more per hour, up from 61 percent last year; and 15 percent say a fair minimum wage is $15 or more per hour, up from 11 percent last year. Sixty-four percent of employers believe minimum wage should be increased in their state, up from 62 percent in 2014.

"Fair wages and benefits such as paid sick days are a hot political topic right now, and they're also on employers' minds as the public and private sector continue to work to provide good jobs, which will lead to a stronger, more stable workforce, leading ultimately to a healthier economy," said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder.

Thirty percent of employers plan to hire minimum wage workers this year, up from 26 percent last year. Although 67 percent of employers feel a fair minimum wage is $10 or more per hour, of those hiring minimum wage workers this year, almost half (48 percent) said they're going to pay less than $10.

  • Less than $8:00: 11 percent
  • $8.00-$8.99 per hour: 23 percent
  • $9.00-$9.99 per hour: 14 percent
  • $10.00-$10.99 per hour: 21 percent
  • $11.00-$11.99 per hour: 7 percent
  • $12.00-$12.99 per hour: 8 percent
  • $13.00-$13.99 per hour: 6 percent
  • $14.00-$14.99 per hour: 5 percent
  • $15.00 or more per hour: 6 percent

When asked why they think the minimum wage in their state should be increased, employers who agreed with the sentiment most often said because it can improve standard of living (72 percent) followed by because it can have a positive effect on employee retention (59 percent) and because it can help bolster the economy (53 percent). Those who do not think minimum wage should be increased in their state said they believe this because it can potentially cause employers to hire less people (67 percent), because it can cause issues for small businesses who are struggling to get by (66 percent) and because it can cause hikes in prices to offset labor costs (65 percent).

Survey Methodology
The nationwide survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,153 hiring and human resource managers ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) and 3,244 employees ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between May 11 and June 7, 2016 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With pure probability samples of 2,153 and 3,244, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have sampling errors of +/- 2.11 and +/- 1.72 percentage points, respectively. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

About CareerBuilder®
As the global leader in human capital solutions, CareerBuilder specializes in cutting-edge HR software as a service to help companies with every step of the recruitment process from acquire to hire. CareerBuilder works with top employers across industries, providing job distribution, sourcing, workflow, CRM, data and analytics in one pre-hire platform. It also operates leading job sites around the world. Owned by TEGNA Inc. (NYSE:TGNA), Tribune Media (NYSE:TRCO) and McClatchy (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

Media Contact
Ladan Nikravan
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SOURCE CareerBuilder