Millions of Americans are finding their paychecks don’t stretch as far as they once did. Slightly over half of people surveyed are bringing in just enough money to cover their expenses or are spending more than they earn every month, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts survey of 7,000 households. Unsurprisingly, the majority of people also don’t have a few hundred dollars on hand to cover a major — or even minor — financial emergency, such as a car repair, broken washing machine, or hospital bill, Bankrate found.
“It’s not a matter of if, but when an unexpected expense will pop up,” analyst Jill Cornfield said in the Bankrate report. “Our survey shows that just under half of adults surveyed said they or a family member had a major expense in the past 12 months. If you have a car, a house or apartment, a pet, or a kid — if you’re a member of the human race — something that costs money is bound to go wrong.”
It’s not just lower-income people who are living on the financial edge. Although poorer households were more likely to say they weren’t financially secure, a significant minority of households earning $75,000 or more per year also said their money situation was unstable, Pew found. Forty-one percent of those households reported a financial shock, such as a pay cut, divorce, illness, or major car or home repair, had made it difficult to make ends meet in the past year.
In some states, those financial struggles are worse than others. Financial website GoBankingRates recently ranked the states where people were most and least likely to be living paycheck to paycheck. To do so, it calculated how much of the average person’s paycheck would be left after paying for housing, food, transportation, utilities, and healthcare.
Paychecks went furthest in central and southern states Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. In contrast, people living on the East and West coasts had the least wiggle room in their budgets. These are the 10 states where people were most likely to be living paycheck to paycheck.