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More Americans are living ‘paycheck-to-paycheck’


Difficulty in navigating inflation

Living in the United States has become increasingly expensive for those in the middle- and lower-middle class. Those working at the poverty level find it particularly challenging. Many factors affect living costs for people, like location, salary, lifestyle, debt, and family needs.

Household finances–sans those persons working in the entertainment industry–hasn’t changed in the past few years, and while some minimum-wage jobs have raised their pay, it is often offset by a reduction in work hours. This can equate their paycheck to what it was before the raise in salary.

In the South and the Midwest, the average income after taxes needed for a single person to thrive ranges from $26,500 to $32,500, and on the East Coast and the West Coast in the major cities, the average income needed is $35,000 to $45,000. That sum, recorded prior to the pandemic, falls far short in terms of having funds for outside and other recreational activities.

Not only have things changed since the pandemic, but the median wage for single Americans has only doubled in price across the board. In 2023, Zippia (an online platform for job seekers) did a study that compared what the average person needs to make in the U.S. for a liveable life to what the average person actually makes in the U.S. Before you receive the data, however, there is a disclaimer that many things factor into the numbers such as age, industry, field, and experience. The average American is expected to make 63,214 in personal income. In contrast, the average American makes $44,225, almost $20k less than expected which is the reason why the poverty line has increased exponentially over the last few years.

“Across the first half, we saw the reality of rising living costs across the US - with home prices, groceries, gas, and public transportation becoming increasingly expensive.” said Coral Bamgboye with the recruitment firm Robert Walters United States. “Now more than ever, employees are relying on their salaries and job security to ensure they stay afloat – but with 7% more women than men stating that they live to paycheck to paycheck with no disposable income, it’s evident that men have an unfair advantage in living in the current economy.”

Another factor that plays in the pay-wage is gender. Women have historically made less than a man in the same career field. This does not include all fields and industries and is a general overview of the economic comparison between genders. In the United States, women make almost $8,000 dollars less than men in the corporate world, according to a Zippia research study. Zippia broke it down into five categories: self-employed, state jobs, federal jobs, private jobs, and non-profit. In every one, women make almost 11,000 less than their male counterparts.

“The gender pay gap has been prevalent for as long as the modern economy has and because of this, women should be supported by their employers in a way that makes them feel comfortable and confident when it comes to salary negotiation,” Bamgboye said.