According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, the group of workers whose incomes rise and fall by as much as 25 percent over the course of a year is mostly made up of hourly workers in retail and gig economy workers. But while they make up a large segment of those affected by income volatility, they are far from alone.
Self-employed contract workers, commission-based employees, tip-based workers, small business owners and seasonal workers all face variations on income volatility, according to Joanna Smith-Ramani, program director of the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program’s Expanding Prosperity Impact Collaborative (EPIC). And those workers are increasingly represented at all points of the earnings spectrum.
“One of the mistakes people make is to associate income volatility as an issue for lower-income families. The worst consequences of income volatility are most apparent in lower-income workers, but income volatility is becoming the reality of more middle-class and upper-middle workers as well,” said Smith-Ramani in a conversation with PYMNTS and LendUp CEO Sasha Orloff about the issues caused by income volatility and how they can be solved.
Those issues are not only pressing, but both Smith-Ramani and Orloff agreed that they are likely to become magnified before they’re diminished. According to experts, income volatility is growing in the American economy – 90 percent said it has been on the rise in the last decade, 56 percent recognize it as a problem, and almost a third say it is a “critical problem.”