30 July 2018

"80% of US workers live paycheck to paycheck"

That's seems hard to believe, but that's the number cited by CNBC:
Seventy-eight percent of full-time workers said they live paycheck to paycheck, up from 75 percent last year, according to a recent report from CareerBuilder. Overall, 71 percent of all U.S. workers said they're now in debt, up from 68 percent a year ago...

Even those making over six figures said they struggle to make ends meet, the report said. Nearly 1 in 10 of those making $100,000 or more said they usually or always live paycheck to paycheck, and 59 percent of those in that salary range said they were in the red.
Commentary in a op-ed piece at The Guardian:
The typical American worker now earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Although the US economy continues to grow, most of the gains have been going to a relatively few top executives of large companies, financiers, and inventors and owners of digital devices.

America doesn’t have a jobs crisis. It has a good jobs crisis...

Two fundamental forces have changed the structure of the US economy, directly altering the balance of power between business and labor. The first is the increasing difficulty for workers of joining together in trade unions. The second is the growing ease by which corporations can join together in oligopolies or to form monopolies...

This great shift in bargaining power, from workers to corporations, has pushed a larger portion of national income into profits and a lower portion into wages than at any time since the second world war. In recent years, most of those profits have gone into higher executive pay and higher share prices rather than into new investment or worker pay...

Another consequence: corporations and wealthy individuals have had more money to pour into political campaigns and lobbying, while labor unions have had far less... 
The combination of high corporate profits and growing corporate political power has created a vicious cycle: higher profits have generated more political influence, which has altered the rules of the game through legislative, congressional, and judicial action – enabling corporations to extract even more profit. The biggest losers, from whom most profits have been extracted, have been average workers.  
Image via the Brookings Institute.


  1. Meanwhile, in Europe, inequality has remained about the same over the last 40 years. Can't find the graph, but I believe it came from a British source, could be the Guardian or as similar source.

    The difference between the US and Europe can be illustrated fairly simply by noting that in the UK, a Tory government pushed through terrible austerity on everything (including the military) but the NHS, while in the US, the Democrats can't force the public to take private health insurance.

    1. The Neoliberals are attacking the NHS, too:

  2. Nearly 1 in 10 of those making $100,000 or more said they usually or always live paycheck to paycheck, and 59 percent of those in that salary range said they were in the red.

    America doesn’t have a jobs crisis. It has a good jobs crisis...

    Sounds like people have a spending crisis. They are spending more than they should. The person making $50k a year works hard, works themselves up the ladder and starts making $100k a year. However they are still living paycheck to paycheck? If they had kept the same bills from when they made $50k they'd be living pretty.

    I see to many cases of people making great money but not able to save any of it. If you're making $50k a year with no kids and you can't come up with $3000 it isn't the fault of the US.

    most of the gains have been going to a relatively few top executives of large companies

    Funny some love to point out the "unfairness" of the ceo making far more than the avg employee but they have no problem with the union boss making far more than the avg employee

    1. Funny how when Millennials don't spend money, they're accused of "Killing the 'X' Industry; but when the DO spend money, they're accused of bringing penury upon themselves "overspending."

      In a consumer economy, you need people to buy goods and services. Broke people don't do that. Why is it so hard for Conservatives to get this????

  3. I do agree that there is a ridiculous disparity of income between top to bottom... and I've always questioned the assumption that a boss should ALWAYS make more than those lower down the hierarchy... and wages ARE stagnant... but I do have to agree, somewhat, with the Post by Anonymous.
    Among my friends I see a LOT of overspending. I see people having kids they cannot afford. People subscribing to multiple expensive entertainment sources... cable, internet streaming services, satellite radio. Eating out at restaurants nearly every day. Buying new cars and appliances every few years.
    If they can't make ends meet I think there should at least be some question as to what those ends are.

  4. I totally agree with you and anon that vast numbers of people (perhaps most people) overspend. No argument there.

  5. "...Progress and Poverty (1879), sold millions of copies worldwide... The treatise investigates the paradox of increasing inequality and poverty amid economic and technological progress..."


  6. Overspending has nothing to do with the income though.

    It's simple. Wages are stagnant because the rich give themselves raises at the expense of the rest.

  7. not surprising that many starting out wont be able to build savings after accounting for the expenses of housing, food, transportation,taxes, health insurance, etc. these often require both partners to have employment.even if this equation can balance, it is still common for many couples to develop revenue issues. a.k.a. children. if both must work when children are very young, the childcare costs may end up being borrowed on credit cards. once all a family's children are in public schiool , there may be a chance to pay down the childcare debt. If higher ed is an aspiration, the ability to cover the parent portion of college costs likely wont be do-able while paying down the childcare loans. in state public residential colleges cost our family -parent portion- about $70-80K per child. those 2 "mercedes S class" educations were helpfully available to borrow at 8.5% thru the friendly government Parent PLUS program. higher income from 2 working parents increase the amount FASFA calculated to be the parent obligation. if it is part of the family amerian dream to have their children get higher education profligate lifestyle choices are seldom the only explanation for paycheck to paycheck existances.


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