Why Fewer Americans Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck

The number of Americans relying on their next paycheck to make ends meet continues to drop, with research showing it's at its lowest level since the recession began.

Shoppers in crosswalk
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Shoppers in crosswalk

The study by CareerBuilder revealed that 40 percent of workers always, or usually, live paycheck to paycheck, continuing a downward trend from a high of 46 percent during the early days of the financial crisis in 2008. Just 23 percent of workers never rely on their next payday to make ends meet.

Consistent with past studies, women are more likely than men to live paycheck to paycheck, with one- quarter of female workers having missed at least one monthly bill payment in the past month, compared to 17 percent of men.

Overall, the study found that employees between 45 and 54 years old are the most likely to rely on each paycheck, with those over 55 the least likely to live payday to payday.

"Making ends meet remains a challenge for millions of households, but the situation has improved for workers who've grown more confident with their job security or who've taken steps to pay down debt and save more," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "Seventy-two percent of workers report they are more fiscally responsible since the end of the recession, and as the labor market continues to improve, we expect more workers will again be able to spend in ways that will drive the economy forward."

One of the ways employees have put themselves in a better financial situation is by cutting down on leisure expenses. However, the research found that there were a few things Americans are unwilling to forgo.

Nearly 60 percent of the employees surveyed said they are unwilling to stop paying for their Internet connection, regardless of their financial situation. Other things they refuse to give up include expenses related to driving and their pets, as well as mobile phones and cable television.

The study was based on surveys of more than 3,800 full-time employees.