For more than a decade, wages, in real terms, have been pretty much stagnant.
Even as productivity has increased among the middle class, wages have failed to improve to match. So, even though the recession has been over for more than five years, many Americans still feel the pinch.
Recent research suggests that more than 25 million middle-class Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
According to a study from the Brookings Institution, 66 percent of the American households living “hand-to-mouth” are families with median incomes of around $41,000.
This means that, even though there is an economic recovery underway (albeit a rather lukewarm recovery), millions of Americans — many of them with jobs — aren’t reaping the benefits of the recovery.
When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you don’t usually have liquid assets, such as savings accounts. The research finds that these Americans do have homes and retirement accounts, but, even then, the median net worth is still only $41,000.
To get beyond living paycheck to paycheck, the Americans in this study needed an income of $51,000 a year and had assets of $116,000.
But that doesn’t mean that you are doomed to live paycheck to paycheck, no matter how much (or little) you make. You can stop living paycheck to paycheck if you are willing to make changes to the way you handle your budget.