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Where Americans Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck

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More than half of the U.S. adult population — 124 million Americans — is living paycheck to paycheck, according to a new survey from fintech company LendingClub and B2B platform PYMNTS.

The survey shows 22% of those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to keep up with their bills, with regional differences among Americans who are barely making ends meet.

In fact, 59% of people living in the eight states in the South Central region are living paycheck to paycheck — highest across the U.S. Meanwhile, 49% of people living in the eight states in the Mountain region are doing so — lowest across the U.S. but still substantial.

Living paycheck to paycheck, by region

By region — as designated by LendingClub and PYMNTS — here’s the percentage of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to pay bills and both.

South Central

Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas

  • Living paycheck to paycheck and struggling with bills: 25%
  • Living paycheck to paycheck but not struggling with bills: 34%
  • Not living paycheck to paycheck: 41%

Northeast

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont

  • Living paycheck to paycheck and struggling with bills: ​​23%
  • Living paycheck to paycheck but not struggling with bills: 33%
  • Not living paycheck to paycheck: 44%

South Atlantic

Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia

  • Living paycheck to paycheck and struggling with bills: 20%
  • Living paycheck to paycheck but not struggling with bills: 34%
  • Not living paycheck to paycheck: 46%

Pacific

California, Oregon, Washington

  • Living paycheck to paycheck and struggling with bills: 20%
  • Living paycheck to paycheck but not struggling with bills: 33%
  • Not living paycheck to paycheck: 47%

Midwest

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin

  • Living paycheck to paycheck and struggling with bills: 21%
  • Living paycheck to paycheck but not struggling with bills: 30%
  • Not living paycheck to paycheck: 49%

Mountain

Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming

  • Living paycheck to paycheck and struggling with bills: 20%
  • Living paycheck to paycheck but not struggling with bills: 29%
  • Not living paycheck to paycheck:0%

Residents in metropolitan areas are 24% more likely to be living paycheck to paycheck than rural dwellers

Americans who live in metropolitan areas are more cash-strapped than those who live in rural or farming areas, according to the survey findings.

In fact, 63% of metro-based residents are living paycheck to paycheck — 24% higher than the 51% of rural dwellers who are doing so.

The survey also finds that 56% of city residents are living paycheck to paycheck, compared with 49% of town residents.

Millennials more likely than other generations to live paycheck to paycheck

Of the 71 million millennials in the U.S., 43 million — or 68% — are living paycheck to paycheck. By region, millennials in the South Central (71%) and South Atlantic (70%) are the most cash-strapped. Meanwhile, only 40% of baby boomers and seniors across the country are cash-strapped and living paycheck to paycheck.

Here’s a closer look, broken down by generation:

Percentage of consumers living paycheck to paycheck (by generation)
Generation Zers Millennials Bridge millennials Generation Xers Baby boomers and seniors
South Central 68% 71% 68% 62% 44%
Northeast 48% 69% 70% 63% 42%
South Atlantic 59% 70% 64% 55% 41%
Pacific 54% 68% 68% 55% 36%
Midwest 51% 66% 65% 55% 40%
Mountain 68% 59% 59% 58% 36%

For context, here are the age ranges as provided by LendingClub and PYMNTS:

  • Generation Zers: Those born between 1997 and 2003
  • Millennials: Those born between 1981 and 1996
  • Bridge millennials: Those born between 1978 and 1988
  • Generation Xers: Those born between 1965 and 1980
  • Baby boomers and seniors: Those born in 1964 or earlier

40% of high-income earners are struggling

Not surprisingly, low-income earners are 80% more likely to be living paycheck to paycheck than high-income Americans.

However, a high paycheck doesn’t necessarily equal financial wellness. While those raking in a high income (more than $100,000) are struggling far less financially than their lower-income counterparts (less than $50,000), 40% are still living paycheck to paycheck, barely making ends meet. Among the high earners in the Northeast, 45% are scraping by and 19% are struggling to pay their bills.

Those struggling to pay their bills and living paycheck to paycheck could look into options such as debt consolidation. If they need help with cash flow gaps to handle monthly living expenses, they might consider a small personal loan.

Methodology: Reality Check: The Paycheck-To-Paycheck Report was conducted by San Francisco-based LendingClub and Boston-based PYMNTS from April through June 2021. Data was culled from Census-balanced surveys of 7,116 U.S. consumers.