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Most U.S. Workers Live Paycheck to Paycheck: MetLife

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NU Online News Service, Nov. 17, 2003, 4:20 p.m. EST – Fifty-two percent of workers participating in a recent MetLife survey say they live paycheck to paycheck.

According to the “2003 Employee Benefits Trend Study” released today by MetLife Inc., New York, younger workers are far more likely to manage their finances that way. Among those 21 to 30 years old, 59% say they live paycheck to paycheck, compared to 52% of those 41 to 50.

Yet even among those nearing or at the traditional retirement age, from 61 to 69, 51% say they depend on each paycheck. Among those with children under 18, 57% rely on their paycheck to manage finances.

Even among employees earning $75,000 or more annually, more than 34% live paycheck to paycheck.

Such short-term financial planning leaves little room for college savings or planning for retirement, MetLife notes.

Due in large part to this heavy dependence on work income, 69% of employees are extremely or very concerned about making ends meet. For women, the percentage rises to 74%.

Yet only 25% seek expert financial planning and investing advice, and only 30% are interested in receiving planning advice as a workplace benefit.

The survey also found that 63% of employees spend less than an hour considering their household’s financial needs during their company’s open enrollment for employee benefits.

“Employees spend hundreds of hours every year shopping for clothes, electronics and personal grooming products, but on average spend only 30 minutes each year making important benefits decisions that impact their financial security,” says C. Robert Henrikson, president of MetLife’s U.S. insurance and financial services businesses.

Of those surveyed, 46% consult with a friend or relative when making decisions, while nearly 30% consult with an insurance agent and 27% no one at all.