February 23, 2009

Most duel-income family fearful

In the current dual-income economy the loss of one person's job can put the family at financial risk, U.S. researchers said.

Nine in 10 dual-income couples in New York state feel there is some risk that one or both of their jobs might not exist in the next couple of years, lead author sociologist Stephen Sweet of Ithaca College said in a statement.

In the old economy we largely depended on the male bread winner. The wife was a homemaker and the men were much more likely to have jobs that were secure; this is especially true for white middle-class families where job security increased with seniority.

In the old economy, if the husband lost a job the wife was reserve labor and she could go out into the labor force and make ends meet, whereas to maintain a middle-class lifestyle in today's economy, dual-income couples are the norm to make ends meet, Sweet added.

The study, published in Research in the Sociology of Work, described how the new economy dismantled the systems that made workers more confident they would hold their jobs as they aged and their family investments increased.

Most working middle class families have next to no savings and the savings they do have are often in things they can't touch, like their 401(k). They are often in debt so they are living paycheck to paycheck, Sweet said.