According to new research by LendingClub, 64 percent of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck at the start of this year—which was up 3 percentage points from December.
“Wages are up 5.1 percent over the past year, which is trailing the pace of inflation,” Bankrate.com senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick told CNBC.
“Indeed, surging prices are stealing the show on the minds of consumers,” he continued.
The data also pointed to the fact that even among individuals with six-figure salaries, 48 percent of respondents also noted that they are living paycheck to paycheck. In December, that percentage was sitting at 42 percent.
As for those who earn between $50,000 and $100,000, 67 percent admitted that they are living paycheck to paycheck.
“With inflation up 7.5 percent in the last 12 months, consumers of all income brackets are struggling to find a way to make ends meet,” Anuj Nayar, Financial Health Officer at LendingClub, said in a statement.
Reliance on Credit Cards
Adding to the concerns is that more Americans are relying on credit cards to pay off their bills. The research showed that among consumers earning more than $100,000 who live paycheck to paycheck and are struggling to pay their bills, 33 percent would use a credit card to cover an emergency expense and pay it off over time. Meanwhile, 20 percent would use a credit card and pay it off in full.
“Every day we see Americans relying on credit cards as a crutch, which is a horrible way to borrow money if you don’t intend to pay off the entire balance at the end of every month,” Nayar added.
Per CNBC, citing a separate report from the financial services website Personal Capital, Americans now believe that they need to make approximately $122,000 annually—more than double the current national average salary—to feel financially secure.
Rising Food and Gas Prices
Amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, fast-rising food and gas prices have weighed heavily on the pocketbooks of many Americans. In fact, according to Yardeni Research, the elevated costs for gas and food could potentially amount to “$3,000 less money” for the average household.
“Gasoline now costs the average household almost $2,000 … We estimate that the average household is currently spending at least $1,000 (according to a seasonally adjusted annual rate) more on food as a result of rapidly rising grocery prices,” Edward Yardeni, the president of the firm, wrote in a social media post. “That’s $3,000 less money that households have to spend on other consumer goods and services, which also are experiencing rapid price increases.”
In addition, new research from AutoInsurance.com is indicating that Americans and Europeans are already taking action to minimize the economic burden of high gas prices—as the data showed that 45 percent of drivers admitted that they have reduced the amount and length of car trips.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.