America´s Livelihood Index

The livelihood gap prevents financial wellness

Everything you need to know about the Livelihood Gap for the half of America that earns
less than the median wage and likely struggles to make ends meet.

What Is the Livelihood Gap

Millions of Americans are struggling to meet livelihood needs, and over 80% live paycheck to paycheck. For the 65 million living at or below the median wage: After being monetized by costly financial service fees for short-term liquidity, everything is more expensive. Whatever is left after paying for food, fuel, auto loans, shelter, daycare, telecom, various types of insurances is not enough. The difference is the Livelihood Gap.

We Calculated This Gap for Every State

LIVELIHOOD INDEX

For most of America, basic expenses exceed income
AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY
  • State Rank
  • Alabama 10
  • Alaska * 6
  • Arizona 2
  • Arkansas 29
  • California 28
  • Colorado 8
  • Connecticut 36
  • Delaware 35
  • Florida 47
  • Georgia 9
  • Hawaii * 31
  • Idaho 19
  • Illinois 34
  • Indiana 23
  • Iowa 12
  • Kansas 21
  • Kentucky 7
  • Louisiana 27
  • Maine 48
  • Maryland 5
  • Massachusetts 30
  • Michigan 26
  • Minnesota 18
  • Mississippi 16
  • Missouri 39
  • Montana 45
  • Nebraska 33
  • Nevada 44
  • New Hampshire 49
  • New Jersey 42
  • New Mexico 15
  • New York 41
  • North Carolina 3
  • North Dakota 40
  • Ohio 38
  • Oklahoma 4
  • Oregon 14
  • Pennsylvania 43
  • Rhode Island 11
  • South Carolina 17
  • South Dakota 50
  • Tennessee 20
  • Texas 24
  • Utah 13
  • Vermont 46
  • Virginia 25
  • Washington 1
  • West Virginia 37
  • Wisconsin 32
  • Wyoming 22
Half the working population in 48 out of 50 states is experiencing a gap in their livelihoods. This population – our better half – consists primarily of occupations we now consider essential workers.
livelihood index formula
If Livelihood Index is less than 100, there is a gap and basic life expenses exceed income.  Financial Wellness can only begin when the Livelihood Index is greater than 100 and savings can be put towards financial and social mobility.

Livelihood Index Ranking

1. Washington 102   26. Michigan 93
2. Arizona 100   27. Louisiana 93
3. North Carolina 99   28. California 93
4. Oklahoma 98   29. Arkansas 92
5. Maryland 98   30. Massachusetts 92
6. Alaska 97   31. Hawaii 91
7. Kentucky 97   32. Wisconsin 91
8. Colorado 97   33. Nebraska 91
9. Georgia 96   34. Illinois 90
10. Alabama 96   35. Delaware 90
11. Rhode Island 96   36. Connecticut 90
12. Iowa 96   37. West Virginia 90
13. Utah 96   38. Ohio 90
14. Oregon 95   39. Missouri 89
15. New Mexico 95   40. North Dakota 88
16. Mississippi 95   41. New York 87
17. South Carolina 95   42. New Jersey 86
18. Minnesota 94   43. Pennsylvania 86
19. Idaho 94   44. Nevada 85
20. Tennessee 94   45. Montana 85
21. Kansas 94   46. Vermont 84
22. Wyoming 94   47. Florida 83
23. Indiana 93   48. Maine 81
24. Texas 93   49. New Hampshire 78
25. Virginia 93   50. South Dakota 76

How Payactiv bridges the gap

Benefits like Earned Wage Access (EWA) help millions of workers solve the livelihood gap in order to reach financial wellness.
When you use Payactiv, what do you spend on the most? Select all that apply.
im-spending-graph

What makes up livelihood

Livelihood needs and wants represent the basic human physiological necessities that include food, shelter and clothing for comfort. Financial wellness begins after Livelihood needs are met – and includes upper-order needs, such as self-esteem and self-actualization.

FINANCIAL WELLNESS: SAVINGS

Emergencies
Holidays
Travel
Gifts
Retirement
Education
Investments

LIVELIHOOD WANTS

Apparel & Footwear
Cable
Recreation
Travel
Home Items & Furnishings
Pet care

LIVELIHOOD NEEDS

Food
Fuel
Auto
Shelter
Phone & Internet
Various Insurances
Medical
Other

The livelihood gap: State by state comparison

In each state, wants —and sometimes even basic livelihood needs—typically go unmet.
livelihood gap state by state

Week-by-week Financial Life of a Person

The expenses at the beginning of the month typically exceel the first paycheck
weekbyweekemaotiongraph

livelihood

a means of securing the necessities of life
“Jobs are a primary way to secure livelihood.”

mean (average) wage

the total wages divided by the count of workers
“Average wage in the United States is $56,000.”

median wage

half the workers earn less than this number
“Median hourly wage in the United States is $20 and average hourly wage is $27.” “Difference between the US median and average wages is $16,000, or 40%.”

livelihood index

a standardized way to measure the Livelihood Gap

usa income distribution
usa flower map color