Gallup: 14% of Americans Couldn't Last a Week Financially If They Lost Job

Susan Jones | April 18, 2014 | 11:42am EDT
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A Gallup poll finds at least 14 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. (AP File Photo)

( - If you lost your job, how long would it be before you couldn't pay your bills?

A new Gallup poll finds that 14 percent of Americans would experience "significant financial hardship" within a week, while another 14 percent said they could make it for more than a year.

In the middle, 29 percent said they could last one month; 26 percent said up to four months; and 17 percent said up to one year.

Gallup also asked working adults if they're likely to lose their jobs in the next 12 months.

Sixteen percent of workers say they are "very" likely (5%) or "fairly" likely (11%) to lose their job in the next 12 months, down from a peak of 21 percent in 2010. But 84 percent said it was "not too likely" (34%) or "not at all likely" (50%) they will lose their job in the next 12 months.

Gallup's analysis of those two job-less questions, in combination, finds that 9 percent of all U.S. workers are "highly vulnerable to a job loss," believing they may lose their and saying they would not be able to make their money last more than a week or a month without one.

But of those who are more secure in their jobs, many more could go longer without experiencing financial hardship.

The implications, according to Gallup: "With long-term unemployment a serious problem in recent years, many U.S. workers are not in a position financially to go a month, or even a week, without finding a new job if laid off. That underscores the economic hardship that unemployment of any length can bring on U.S. families, particularly for younger and lower-income workers."

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by Congress in 2010, is urging the nation's public and private employers to provide financial education in the workplace.

"Workers will be more likely to avoid financial distress if they are better positioned to manage their own finances," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a speech in February. "As employers, we can play a critical role in this effort by implementing practices in the workplace that strengthen financial capability."

Cordray specifically mentioned "basic offerings," such as using direct deposit to encourage savings; and educating employees about options with their retirement plans and automatically enrolling them in those plans. He also said employers can expand their wellness programs to include financial wellness.

"We want to see more organizations offer financial education benefits and savings options to their employees. We also want them to be much more conscious of the need to ensure that more employees understand and utilize the benefits made available to them," he said.

The results of Gallup's annual "Economy and Personal Finance" poll, conducted April 3-6, is based on the responses of a random sample of 509 adults employed full or part time, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
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