97 Million American Workers Are Living Paycheck To Paycheck

Tyler Durden's picture

As we’ve noted time and time again, the number of Americans scraping by with almost no money in their savings account (if they even have a savings account) is staggeringly high - and growing.

As the Motley Fool pointed out in a recent post, the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the personal saving rate in June 2017 was a measly 3.8%, or $3.80 for every $100 they earn. With the median household income in the US at just north of $50,000, that would amount to about $4,000 a year.  

And that’s when they’re saving money. Another study from GoBankingRates found that 69% of Americans surveyed had less than $1,000 in savings. And about one-third had no money in reserve.

Considering that the US economy is 70% based on consumption, Americans are probably over-consuming rather than saving. The Federal Reserve recently released data showing that aggregate credit card debt had hit an all-time high of $1.027 trillion, eclipsing the previous high that was set before the Great Recession. Add in another trillion of auto-loan debt and $1.4 trillion in student-loan debt, and the aggregate debt pile is not only larger than ever before – it’s growing at its fastest rate in decades.

And in what's perhaps the most troubling statistic highlighted by Motley Fool, a recent survey by CareerBuilder and The Harris Poll found that 78% of full-time US workers - nearly 100 million Americans - are now living paycheck to paycheck, up from 75% in 2016.

The survey suggested that only 19% of workers save more than $501 monthly, while at the other end of the spectrum, 56% were saving less than $100 a month, including 26% who saved nothing monthly. Fewer than one-third of respondents admitted to following a budget. Meanwhile, about half of respondents said they wouldn’t give up their internet, phone or car to save money.

Maybe once the Federal Reserve has succeeded in “normalizing” interest rates, spendthrift Americans will have more of an incentive to save, while also making it more expensive to pay down debt – a powerful disincentive.

Now, if only the central bank could find a way to revive stagnant wages…

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Raffie's picture

Was 95mil about 6mo ago

stinkhammer's picture

too broke to pay attention obviously

The Alarmist's picture

95m was the number living from govt check to govt check.

Shocker's picture

The job market is still very weak, we have a long long ways to go. Also all your major expenses keep going up, Health Insurance, Energy cost....

Layoff List: http://www.dailyjobcuts.com


Stuck on Zero's picture

We own a number of rental properties with renters who live paycheck to paycheck. Half of the year they are paying us back for earlier missed rental payments and the other half of the year they're desperate for roomates to share expenses. Of course this never keeps them from buying $14K motorcycles, attending $200/seat concerts etc. They also never cook for themselves ... they just have to eat out every meal and stop three times a day at Starbucks.

CheapBastard's picture

8 years of "Change you can believe in," has consequences.

ali-ali-al-qomfri's picture

maybe they can pawn their tatoos?

redmudhooch's picture

Just because you know a few that do that, does not mean all do fucktard.

Pernicious Gold Phallusy's picture

The majority of poor people got that way by making stupid decisions throughout their lives.

spiral galaxy's picture

......all your taxes keep going up and up! ....as do the endless fees, fines, tolls and surcharges.

scintillator9's picture

^ THIS ^

Most do not notice the endless amount of FEES on almost anything and everything today.



yogibear's picture

Someone has to be buying those $1,000.00 plus iPhones.

AGuy's picture

Question: How many Americans are using Credit cards to meet ends? I see that CC debt is soaring pretty fast these days.

I suspect that 97M are not living paycheck to Paycheck, but on Credit cards, using their Paychecks to to pay the interest on their debt. I know of a couple of people using CC to mean ends.

Lumberjack's picture

Free solar panels!!! /s

FreeShitter's picture

And yet americans keep voting to keep this rigged system AGAINST you going...its all yall's damn fault. Stop voting, stop working, stop paying your taxes, and 







cherry picker's picture

You got that right.


My plan is different.  I am planning on starting a virtual nation with a crypto coin that will be backed by the full weight of this virtual nation.  the difference between the virtual nation's coin is that people can pay a fixed fee to join this nation which will have its own passports.  once this virtual nation becomes large enough it can replace the blood sucking current nations and we may be to enjoy peace and prosperity.

cherry picker's picture

Haven't touched a drop in 3 years but I am ready to buy me a fine bottle of tequila:)

Infinite QE's picture

Sorry man. There's already a crypto coin for that. Oh wait, there's two.



Curiously_Crazy's picture

To late sorry, that was done over a decade ago ;)

I forget the name, but there was a game that was around similar to "The Sims" but it was an online virtual world where you were the Sim. Your character would go to work to earn virtual currency to buy a virtual house; you'd buy virtual coffees with your virtual friends.. on your days off you might want to go to the virtual beach or something. The mega wealthy owned virtual islands in the virtual world.

Nostradumbass's picture

...stop paying your taxes...

I agree with you but please tell us how you accomplished this feat.

Nostradumbass's picture


I see you claim to have cut out working... 

Are there any taxes besides sales taxes you are paying?

EnragedUSMCExpat's picture

Moved out of America. The U.S. expat IRS exemption on overseas income was $101,300.00 for 2016. I make 1/5 of that on retirement income, below the U.S. poverty line - as the U.S. embassy in Jakarta informed me when denying a travel visa for my spouse for a 1 week business trip.

EnragedUSMCExpat's picture

Can you imagine... the scene at IRS headquarters when 3/4 of America says "FUCK YOU" on April 15?  Just what exactly can they DO?

Silver coinage, barter, trade-out. So fucking simple. Starve the motherfuckers out, it would not take more than a few months - if that.

Nostradumbass's picture

IRS says to the Treasury - hey, the sheeple aren't paying! Treasury says to FED - PRINT, we don't need no stinking taxes to accomplish our goals!

redmudhooch's picture

Where has not voting got you?

I agree with the starve part.

Two Theives and a Liar's picture

Saving "money"...LOL! 

If you ain't stackin' what...exactly...are you "saving"? 

GOLD (and Silver) BITCHEZ!

corporatewhore's picture

the down vote must be from someone who still has full faith and credit in our dollar.

Two Theives and a Liar's picture

Yeah. Ben? Janet? Lloyd? Jamie? we know it's you!

EnragedUSMCExpat's picture

Fuckin' A. Opened the safe yesterday just to look at the bars... smells like,,, SURVIVAL.

Gold. 75 million Indonesian grandmothers can't be wrong.

redmudhooch's picture

Thats a real smart thing to put on the internet.

Something tells me you are full of shite.

UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

Ammo, guns, food, medical, comm gear, generators, vehicles and other hard necessities, some luxuries, PMs. Fuck fiat shitbucks! 

corporatewhore's picture

Who has savings--it's so fifties.


are we there yet's picture

If you count welfare checks of 47 million along with the 97 million it is 144 million.

Pool Shark's picture

If you count social security checks of 59 million along with the 144 million it is 203 million.



are we there yet's picture

Also, The prison population averages over 50K per year per prisoner, not including lawyer and courtroom cost.

Stan522's picture

I'm surprised it's not more than that.......

FreedomWriter's picture

Which raises some interesting questions, Motley Fool. 

Where did all those middle class investors go?

Where did all the money fueling the 4 trillion stock market boom come from?

How can people with no savings profit from this YUUUGE  stock market?

Ummmmm....... the short answer? They can't and won't.

It is very fifties, but hey what do you want? Some kind of boom economy that might float all boats? Apparently not.

Let's hope the Trump administration does bring back jobs and an environment which rewards ingenuity and the sharing of wealth. The incumbent US congress and Senate seems to have other plans. Excuse me if my faith is wavering. Can we ask them to get out of the way? Will they listen?

yellensNIRPles's picture

The smart, tough people in the next few years will learn to live without any debt, learn to live with less in general and stay out of 'the system' as much as is legally possible to reduce their tax burden and limit risk.

The rest will be debt slaves praying the casino known as the FED will save them, and they will suffer greatly for that faith for years to come. We will hear stories of people who timed the top just right and got out rich before the next big crash, but those will be few and far between and mostly based on either luck or illegal insider information.

The 'believers', most of them, will lose everything.

ET's picture

Actually, the smart, tough people will get into huge amounts of debt, buy up hard assets, and then pay off their debts with devalued currency.

Read about Hugo Stinnes the Inflation King of Weimar Republic.


AGuy's picture

"Actually, the smart, tough people will get into huge amounts of debt, buy up hard assets, and then pay off their debts with devalued currency."

Not smart at all, since when the debt bubble pops a lot of assets will suffer deflation. Other like PM & Real estate will either get taxes (ie Property tax or Capital gains).

Ideally it would be better save, and then buy up devalued assets when people are desperate for capital.

FreeShitter's picture

LOL leave it to buck for that wonderfully STUPID idea....

ET's picture

That's not what I recommend, though.

Hugo Stinnes was a smart guy, though, for buying up dozens of newspapers to shape public opinion on debt and on his businesses and thereby control the policymakers to his advantage.

People following a similar plan are Mark Zuckerberg (social media titan), Warren Buffett (couple dozen local newspapers) and Jeff Bezos (Washington Post).


Is-Be's picture

The deflation/inflation argument must be settled first.

I'm of the opinion that what comes out of thin air can go back into thin air. Its all a pea and thimble trick.

For instance Japan is said to be printing with gay abandon. Japan has low unemployment, a decent per capita income, a three day holiday once a month etc and so forth.

The gyrations and machinations of the Big Money is pure Kabuki.

However, I have tried being in debt and didn't enjoy the experience.

ET's picture

The Japanese yen is worth about 20% of what it was worth in the year 2001.


UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

When I was in Japan in 1967, the exchange rate was 360 yen per US dollar due to the Bretton Woods system. $1000 USD in 1967 was equivalent to $7, 338.38.  The rate of inflation was 4.07%.

ET's picture

What will people want when they run out of money?

More money.

The money printers will happily oblige.

buzzsaw99's picture

$200/mo for cable tv, $200/mo phone bill.  i have no doubt they're broke.  fuck 'em.