Paycheque-to-paycheque existence for many workers

Almost two-thirds would have trouble with just one delayed payment
||Last Updated: 09/28/2009

Almost two-thirds (59 per cent) of Canadian workers would have trouble making ends meet if their paycheques were delayed by one week, according to the 2009 National Payroll Week Employee Survey.

“We were shocked by that number. So many Canadians are now living so close to the line that if they miss a single paycheque, the majority will find themselves in financial difficulty,” said Janice MacLellan, chairperson of the Canadian Payroll Association (CPA), which conducted the survey.

The younger workforce is feeling the greatest pinch, as 66 per cent of those aged 18-34 said they would have some degree of difficulty meeting financial obligations if a paycheque was delayed. The situation is most precarious for single parents, as 72 per cent said they would have some trouble.

One-half of Canadian workers are also unable to save more than five per cent of their net pay for retirement, according to the survey of 2,800 employees. About one-third said they have been trying to save more money than a year ago because of the economic uncertainty but have been unable to do so. Another 42 per cent said they are not even attempting to save additional funds. But more than one-half (52 per cent) felt they would need between $750,000 and $3 million to live comfortably in retirement.

When it comes to remuneration, 65 per cent of those who responded said it's more important to receive higher wages from their employer, compared to better health benefits (25 per cent) and education funding (10 per cent).

And if they were to win $1 million in the lottery, a majority of Canadians (70 per cent) said their first priority would be to pay off their debt, followed by contributing as much as possible toward retirement (35 per cent) and investing (30 per cent).

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