Emergency Savings, Economic Confidence Drop Among Hourly Workers, Fintech Branch Survey Reveals

Branch, which empowers working Americans by helping businesses accelerate payments, announced findings from its fourth annual Branch Report, “a look at the financial, work, and lifestyle interests of today’s hourly workers.”

Surveying over 3,000 hourly employees across a variety of sectors including food service, logistics, retail, and healthcare, the 2022 report reveals “how recent economic and price volatility have taken a toll on personal finances, economic optimism, and the ability to meet day to day expenses.”

Despite rising wages, inflation has “led over 80% of respondents (83%) to have less than $500 saved for an emergency, and nearly half of respondents reported having $0 saved for an emergency (48%), a seven percent increase from last year.”

Hourly workers “cited gas/fuel (82%), food/groceries (82%), and home/rent prices (57%) as the areas of their personal finances most affected by inflation.”

With over 70% of hourly workers stating that financial stress impacts their mental health, “faster access to their paychecks helps relieve some of this anxiety.”

About 92% of hourly workers “found the ability to access their pay ahead of payday helpful, an eight percent increase from last year.”

Economic volatility over the last year has also “led to a dramatic downturn in economic optimism.”

Nearly half of hourly workers (49%) “feel negatively about the economy this year, compared to 22 percent in 2021; economic optimism dropped from 43 percent to 22%.” Despite this outlook on the economy, hourly workers “remain optimistic about their own job prospects.”

Nearly 60 percent (58%) do “not plan on leaving their jobs in the next six months, but do believe in their ability to switch jobs easily or grow in their current position.” Only 14% felt “negatively about their job prospects.” About half “cited stability (52%) and compensation/pay (50%) as the major factors keeping them in their current workplaces.”

Atif Siddiqi, Branch Founder and CEO, said:

“Even with higher wages, rising costs of essential expenses have created additional obstacles and setbacks for hourly workers looking to establish greater financial security. As workers increasingly turn to their jobs to find financial stability, companies that can offer compelling financial benefits and opportunities will be best positioned to retain talent.”

Additional findings include:

  • Financial Freedom Means Affording Gas, Groceries and Paying Down Debt
  • Inflation fueled a shift in hourly workers’ top financial concerns in 2022, with groceries and transportation overtaking medical care:
    • Home/rent affordability (57%)
    • Utility bills (56%)
    • Groceries (52%)
    • Autocare/Transportation (31%)
    • Medical/Healthcare costs (29%)

That may be why “nearly half (45%) associate financial freedom with the ability to afford day-to-day bills and expenses.” Having enough retirement savings, “being able to purchase a home, and having a large enough emergency fund tied for a distant second (15%).”

If they received a $1,000 bonus, over 40% “would use it to pay down debt while about a quarter of hourly workers (27%) would put it towards emergency savings.’

When it comes to how often they’d like to be paid, over 80% of hourly workers “would like to break out of the two-week pay cycle.” Nearly half would like “to shift to weekly (45%) while 40%  prefer even more flexibility—receiving their money by the end of each day, or having the option to access a portion of their money before payday.”

Higher wages “continue to be what hourly workers seek most out of their current workplaces, experiencing a slight uptick compared to last year (73% vs. 69%).”

Coming in second “were scheduling predictability (51%) and strong work culture (42%).”

Workers are “switching jobs at similar levels to last year: nearly 60 percent (58%) do not plan on leaving their jobs in the next six months, with about a quarter (27%) considering new opportunities and only 11 percent actively looking.”

Concern over economic volatility and a need for greater stability “may have led the majority of workers to stay in their current positions.”

Stability “edged compensation/pay among the top three motivations” for workers to stay at their current workplaces:

  • Stability (52%)
  • Compensation/Pay (50%)
  • Flexibility (37%)

As wages continue to remain top of mind for hourly workers, “about a quarter are supplementing their income with gig work (23%), while 31 percent are considering it.”

Higher pay (56%) “would be the biggest motivation to switch jobs, followed by the opportunity to work from home (24%), a nine percent increase from last year.”

For more findings or to download a copy of the report, check here.

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