Living hand-to-mouth -- or paycheck-to-paycheck -- is all too common for U.S. workers, three-quarters of whom scramble to cover their living costs.
Whether it's poor budget skills, the slow-growing economy or the fact that paychecks have been expanding at an anemic rate for much of the recovery, 38 percent of the more than 3,200 full-time workers nationwide who took part in an online survey said they sometimes live paycheck to paycheck. Another 15 percent said they usually get by this way and 23 percent said they always do, according to findings released Thursday by job-search firm CareerBuilder.
Conducted from May 11 to June 7 by Harris Poll, more than 2,100 full-time hiring and human resource managers in the private sector also participated in the survey.
Not surprisingly, those earning the least tend to live closest to the edge. 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 do so.
But just paying the bills isn't difficult only for low-income workers. A significant swath of Americans -- 19 percent -- at all salary levels said they weren't able to make ends meet every month last year.
Nine percent of those earning $100,000 or more each year felt they usually or always live paycheck-to-paycheck, while 23 percent of those making between $50,000 and $99,999 also described living paycheck-to-paycheck, and 51 percent of those earning less than $50,000 met the description.
Whether Americans at large are feeling pinched as a result of weak pay growth is difficult to say, with wage growth during much of the recovery averaging just above 2 percent.
If that's the case, however, the picture is brightening, with the latest monthly jobs report offering further positive evidence on the wages front. The July numbers had average hourly earnings rising 8 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $25.69, with annualized wages up 2.6 percent, the strongest increase since the recession ended in June of 2009.
Relatedly, just 5 percent of employers found the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which has remained the same for seven years, to be fair, according to CareerBuilder. A large majority -- 67 percent -- believe a fair minimum wage would be 10 bucks or more an hour, up from 61 percent last year.
Another 15 percent said a fair minimum wage would be $15 or more an hour, up from 11 percent in 2015. And 64 percent of employers believe the 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," Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, said in a statement accompanying the survey results.
Efforts to raise the federal minimum wage have become a national movement, dubbed Fight for $15. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court also refused to hear a challenge to Seattle's recent move to boost the base wage for employers in the cit to $15 an hour. Several other cities and a group of states, including California and New York, have started to phase in a $15 minimum wage in recent months as the cost of living keeps rising.
The average full-time minimum-wage worker's annual earnings comes to $14,500, according to the Obama administration, which supports proposed legislation that would bring the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.
CareerBuilder's poll found that even though most employers feel a fair minimum wage is $10 or more an hour, of those hiring minimum-wage workers this year, nearly half -- 48 percent -- said they're going to pay less than $10.