Do you live paycheck to paycheck? Many American workers do, a fact that’s been highlighted by the ongoing federal government shutdown.
How many people live paycheck to paycheck? According to a 2017 survey conducted by employment website CareerBuilder, about 78 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. That means nearly 4 in 5 U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck – including nearly 10 percent of Americans making $100,000 or more.
Living paycheck to paycheck means struggling to save – in the same survey, half of respondents said they save $100 or less a month.
The partial federal government shutdown has left some 800,000 workers in financial limbo . Some employees deemed “essential,” such as air-traffic controllers, are working without pay.
While Congress has approved back pay for federal employees after the shutdown ends, numerous federal contractors may not receive back pay.
Some furloughed employees have taken to social media, posting their stories on Twitter using the hashtag #shutdownstories.
“I woke up in the middle of the night with a panic attack,” wrote user SammiG. “I don’t think ppl are grasping just how stressful this is for federal employees who have zero control over when the next paycheck is coming. I just want to be able to provide for my family.”
Others shared stories of applying for government assistance, having to sell their car, postponing a pet’s surgery or working as a ride-share driver.
If you’re forced to dip into savings or use credit cards after missing a paycheck, here are some things you can do:
— Contact your lenders and creditors. Some companies, banks and credit unions are offering help to those affected by the shutdown, such as interest-free short-term loans.
— Prioritize expenses. See if you can identify non-essential expenses that can be cut or temporarily suspended, such as eating out or entertainment. This will be different for everyone; figure out what is best for you and your family.
— Contact your unemployment office. If you are currently furloughed, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Those who are currently working without pay typically aren’t eligible for unemployment, but the rules vary by state. You can check with your state unemployment office for your specific eligibility rules. In most states, employees who receive unemployment benefits and later receive back pay will be required to repay the unemployment.
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