An emerging positive outlook on growth
SAN ANTONIO, Sept. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The number of employees living paycheck to paycheck has decreased to 63 percent, according to the 2016 “Getting Paid In America” survey recently conducted by the American Payroll Association (APA).
The result is the lowest recorded by the survey since 2003 and a four percent decrease from 2015 survey findings.
“The 2016 survey clearly shows that America’s workers are feeling the positive impact from the country’s economic growth in recent years,” said Dan Maddux, executive director of the American Payroll Association. “While many American workers are still experiencing financial difficulty, the results show encouraging steps in the right direction.”
The annual survey asked respondents how difficult it would be to meet their current financial obligations if their paychecks were delayed for a week. Nearly 63 percent said they would find it somewhat or very difficult to meet their financial obligations if their paychecks were delayed.
The percentage of Americans living paycheck to paycheck peaked at 72 percent in 2010, following the 2008 financial crisis. In recent years, this number has slowly been on the decline. This year’s results are down from the 67 percent of participants who indicated they would be uneasy about a delayed paycheck in 2015.
Excerpts from Getting Paid In America Survey
- Taxes: Knowledge is power
Pay attention to new tax laws. They are like a moving target—changing yearly. Recent tax changes are supposed to put more money in the pockets of American taxpayers. However, if you don’t have enough taxes withheld, you may be in for an unpleasant shock at tax time. On the other hand, if you received a large refund last year, you may have had too much money withheld at work, in effect giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan at your expense. Click here for more information on how the 2001, 2003 and 2004 tax cuts affected payroll.
- Be smart about your 401(k)
Many workers do not take full advantage of, or effectively manage, the benefits offered by their employer. For more than 20 years, Section 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code has authorized employers to create tax-deferred savings plans for their employees to help supplement Social Security. It’s your responsibility to pay attention to how your contributions are allocated to ensure your nest egg is appropriately diversified for your stage of life. Also, find out if your company gives a percentage match to your 401(k) contributions. If it does, and you are not contributing the maximum amount that your employer matches, you are giving up “free money.”
- Manage medical costs with advance planning
Some employer-sponsored insurance plans allow your medical and/or dental insurance premiums to be deducted from your paycheck before taxes are taken out. These Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts also allow you to set up other accounts that help you save tax dollars on your planned out-of-pocket medical/dental care costs. With healthcare costs on the rise, this is a great way to save tax dollars. Check with your benefits administrator to determine if these options are available.
The American Payroll Association offers free tools to help employees understand their paychecks and make smart financial decisions about their pay. One strategy workers can implement to optimize their paycheck is to split their direct deposit.
Split direct deposit enables workers to take the guesswork out of budgeting and savings by automatically allocating portions of their wages into multiple bank accounts or investments, to be used for things like college funding, vacation planning, retirement planning, etc. Results from the 2016 APA survey found that only 50 percent of workers are currently taking advantage of this direct deposit advantage. Visit www.nationalpayrollweek.com for more tips on getting the most out of your paycheck.
The “Getting Paid In America” survey was held in conjunction with National Payroll Week (NPW), APA’s annual public awareness campaign. Over 27,000 individuals responded to the survey, providing insight into how workers are paid in America. For complete results, visit here.
The APA is the nation’s leader in payroll education, publications, and training. Visit APA online here.