U.S. Worker Decline Survey Reveals that Financial Insecurity Is Severe

U.S. worker decline

Willis Towers Watson Published Study on U.S. Worker Decline

U.S. worker decline has taken another hit as a new survey reveals that the typical employee at a large company in the United States is less able to absorb the financial shock of a disability, illness, or other unforeseen circumstance than are workers with comparable jobs in most other developed countries—and even in a good number of developing countries.

The study, conducted by Willis Towers Watson PLC (NASDAQ:WLTW), involved more than 31,000 employees from 22 markets.

Some 45% of U.S. workers surveyed claimed that they were living paycheck to paycheck. This was a fair deal higher than every other country assessed in the survey. The next two down on the list among developed nations, Canada and Germany, had about 40% of respondents claiming to be living from one payday to another.

Beyond that, only four of the 10 developed nations examined had an affirmative response rate to the question, putting the topic of U.S. worker decline into focus as many developed nations appear to have more secure financials.


In what one analyst called a “particularly gloomy picture,” the percentage of U.S. respondents saying they had financial satisfaction plummeted from 48% to 35% between 2015 and 2017.

The survey included 19,000 respondents from 12 markets that the analysts considered developed: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Singapore, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The remaining 10 countries, with roughly 12,000 survey subjects, included Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Mexico, South Africa, the Philippines, and Turkey.

The workers were not necessarily indicative of the average employee in these countries, however, since they were recruited from a pool of people working in larger, more modern companies that Willis Towers Watson services.

Of the countries on the list, Hong Kong was the market with the fewest workers expressing doubt in their financial security. Despite Hong Kong’s notoriously high housing costs, only about 19% of the respondents said they were living paycheck to paycheck.

Among the developing countries, the percentage of workers expressing financial insecurity ranged from 32% in India to 54% in South Africa—the highest percentage in the survey. Also in the developing nations subset, financial security was higher among Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, and China.

The takeaway is that U.S. worker decline is in full effect, as many countries overtake the U.S. in terms of financial security.



U.S. Leads in Workers Living ‘Paycheck to Paycheck’,” ThinkAdvisor, November 29, 2017.

2017/2018 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey,” Willis Tower Watson, November 17, 2017.