Less American Workers Struggling

August 13, 2011

Do you live paycheck to paycheck? Do you have money squirreled away for an emergency?

While our unemployed Chicago real estate readers are muttering that they don’t even get a paycheck in this tough economy, a report by CareerBuilder shows that the financial situation for some American households is improving.

According to a recent survey, 42 percent of employed U.S. workers say they usually or always live paycheck to paycheck. That’s actually an improvement over the 43 percent in 2010 and is on par with 2007 levels.

Chicago-based CareerBuilder conducted the nationwide survey of more than 5,200 workers from May 18 to June 3, 2011. Here are some of the findings:

*46 percent of female workers live paycheck to paycheck, versus 38 percent of male workers.

*14 percent of workers who make six figures say they live paycheck to paycheck, down from 17 percent last year.

*20 percent of workers admitted to missing a bill payment in the last year, a slight improvement over last year’s 22 percent.

*24 percent of female workers say they have missed a bill payment over the last 12 months compared to 17 percent of men.

man with empty pockets sticking out“A better employment picture in the U.S. has brought more steady incomes into households and workers are paying much closer attention to spending decisions and savings,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.

“The majority of U.S. workers (72 percent) reported they are more fiscally responsible since the recession and have made a variety of changes to their living and spending habits.”

To get by, 21 percent of workers have reduced their 401(k) contributions and/or personal savings in the last year, while 34 percent are not contributing to long-term savings at all.

According to another survey, a majority of Americans don’t have enough cash for an emergency.

A survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that 64 percent of Americans don’t have $1,000 to their name if they really need it.

For those who have it, only 36 percent said they would use it for an emergency. The rest said they would take out a loan or a cash advance on a credit credit, borrow from friends or family, neglect a bill or a mortgage payment to come up with the funds or pawn some assets.

Before it gets to hocking your grandmother’s wedding ring, maybe it’s time to really look at where you spend your money. Making small adjustments — like bringing a sack lunch to work, making your coffee at home and tuning in to Chicagoland Real Estate Forum for free entertainment around the Chicago area — can make a big difference to your bank account.

Unplugging your unused appliances at home, using more energy-efficient light bulbs, reusing grocery bags for garbage bags, and only running full dishwasher and washing machine loads will save you money at home.

Finally, start saving. Even if it’s just a few bucks a week, emergency money is important to have. Taking out a loan with interest will end up costing you more in the long run.

Be smart with your money, especially if you are one of the lucky ones who is still earning a paycheck.

Categories: Economy, Green Tips

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