Economics Government

Half Of Americans Are Living Paycheck To Paycheck

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“You get a check and then go home and pay your bills, and then you have to figure out how much money you have to get to work,” said Ella Williams.

She works in a restaurant, and hers is a refrain echoed by the millions of people across America who are struggling to make ends meet. “It’s hard to be a single mom and raise a child, living paycheck to paycheck,” she said.

A recent McKinsey survey found 40 percent of Americans said they live from one payday to the next. Not all of them are poor. A Federal Reserve report released in July on the economic state of U.S. households showed that while gains have been made, “economic challenges remain for a significant portion of the population.”

The economy added 321,000 jobs last month, marking the 10th month in a row of job growth above 200,000. Unemployment stayed at a steady 5.8 percent. Although wage gains crept up 0.4 percent, for lower-income workers, especially those who rely on tips, pay remains largely the same.

The U.S. Financial Diaries is a joint project with New York University and the Center for Financial Services Innovation. The project tracked more than 200 low- to moderate-income households for a year. The aim is to collect detailed data on how families manage day to day and to dig a little deeper for answers.

Earlier this month the project revealed some early findings, detailing the significant monthly volatility in incomes and how families cope with that fluctuation and unexpected expenses, with many families relying on seasonal employment, part-time work and fluctuating schedules.

In a New York Times poll released Thursday, only 64 percent of respondents said they still believe in the American dream. That’s down from 72 percent in 2009, at the the depths of the financial crisis.

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“Half Of Americans Are Living Paycheck To Paycheck”