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Even wealthy Americans are struggling to make ends meet

About one in three Americans making six-figure salaries are worried about paying their bills, according to a new survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

The survey finds a notable increase over the past year of consumers making $100,000 a year or more who are concerned about making ends meet over the next 12 months.

A significant share of wealthier Americans are coping with financial pressure by cutting spending, including dialing back restaurant visits and entertainment.

The findings underscore how years of high inflation and elevated borrowing costs continue to squeeze consumers’ budgets — even for those at the higher end of the income spectrum.

Nearly a third (30.8%) of consumers making between $100,000 and $149,999 a year are concerned about making ends meet in the next six months, according to the Philly Fed survey, which was fielded from March 22 to April 6.

That’s up from 21.3% of Americans in that income bracket concerned about making ends meet a year earlier.

Similarly, 32.5% of those earning $150,000 or more indicated they are concerned about paying the bills, up from 21.7% a year earlier.

Those more affluent Americans are more concerned than the 23% of those making $70,000 to $99,999, according to the survey.

Among all consumers, about one in three (34.9%) said they are concerned about making ends meet, up from 28.7% a year earlier.

Younger Americans are more likely to be feeling the financial pressure than older.

Forty-one percent of those between 18 and 35 years old said they are concerned about making ends meet, compared with just 22% of those over 65.

There was also a notable increase in higher-earning consumers nervous about paying bills in the longer run.

For instance, 32.3% of those making $100,000 to $149,999 said they are concerned about making ends meet in the next seven to 12 months, up from 26.5% a year ago. There was an even bigger increase among those making at least $150,000, with 33% saying they are concerned, up from 19.8% a year ago.

The Philly Fed survey found a “large and significant” increase in the past year of people who are currently able to pay their bills but are concerned they won’t be able to in the next six months. That increased from 20.7% a year ago to 26.2%.

The mood wasn’t all gloomy, however.

A growing share of wealthier consumers expect higher incomes this year, including 40.8% of those making $150,000 a year or more, up from 20% a year ago. And consumers reported feeling more optimistic than they did a year ago.

Perhaps that helps explain why Americans continue to spend aggressively on travel.

The Transportation Security Administration screened a record 2.99 million people at airports on Sunday.

The agency is bracing for a record-setting summer of air travel, peaking over the Fourth of July holiday.

TSA expects to screen more than 32 million people from June 27 through July 8, 5.4% more than last year.

Still, to manage financial stress, 43.1% of consumers indicate they are cutting discretionary spending for things like entertainment and dining out. More than a third (37.1%) of those making more than $150,000 a year say they are doing the same.

Some consumers are even cutting spending on essentials like food or medical care, with 23.5% of all Americans saying they are doing that, compared with 17.1% of high-earners.

Other steps include taking an additional job (15.3% of higher earners), borrowing more (10.2%) and taking money out of retirement savings early (14.3%).

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