SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Women are “significantly more likely than men to be living-paycheck-to-paycheck,” a study from Varo Bank says.

In September of 2023, Varo Bank partnered with Morning Consult and THRIVE Financial
Empowerment Center to take a deep look into the financial health and well-being of people
living paycheck-to-paycheck in America. The study revealed that 59% of women were more likely to be living paycheck-to-paycheck. Sixty-seventy percent of those considered financially fragile were women.

Varo said in its report that an estimated more than 60% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Inflation and other factors have caused many food prices to increase with some of the largest increases posted since the 1980s.

That can contribute to fragility and financial strain for those of lower income. Low income households typically spend an average of about 30% of their income on groceries. A household of low income may likely be living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Wages play an obvious role in paycheck-to-paycheck and economic fragility. How do South Dakota’s women fit into the paycheck-to-paycheck scenario?

The Missouri Economic and Research Center, ranked South Dakota 16th in cost of living, with 1 being the best and 50th as the worst. But Forbes ranked South Dakota as 8th in highest health care costs at $11,736.

For those living paycheck-to-paycheck, sacrificing a doctor’s visit, necessary medications or mental health care because of cost was a decision made by 48% of respondents in the Valor study. This was not broken down by sex, but the majority of those living paycheck-to-paycheck were women.

South Dakota’s women have high workforce percentage rates, have a higher level of poverty than men, and earn less than men, according to multiple reports.

In 2021, South Dakota women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median usual weekly earnings of $809, or 82.9% of the $976 median usual weekly earnings of their male counterparts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The National Women’s Law Center said in October that women in South Dakota make 80 cents for every $1 a man makes.

The Dakota Institute did not break down the average earnings by sex but said in September that average hourly earnings increased to $28.80 in South Dakota as of June but Sioux Falls and Rapid City, the largest population centers, did not have the same growth.

The average hourly earnings stood at $33.60 in the U.S., they were $29.23 in the Sioux Falls metropolitan area, $28.80 for all of South Dakota, and at $27.57 for Rapid City.

And if women earn 80 cents to the $1 men make, the hourly increase could still put them financially behind men in the state.

The Varo study measured economic fragility by how confident participants were that they could come up with $2,000 in 30 days, if necessary. Women made up the largest percentage of those who said they were not sure or confident they could not come up with the $2,000.

The Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center uses the $2,000 in 30 days as well. In its guidelines, those who say they doubted they could come up with the $2,000 and those who said they for certain could not, were considered financially fragile.

In South Dakota, 12.5% of the population lives in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The rate for women living in poverty in the state is higher. The rate for women between 18 and 44 who live in poverty is 17%, according to America’s Health Rankings by the United Health Foundation.

The percentage is worse for women of color.

More than half of the state’s female Native American population aged 18 to 44 live in poverty at 51%. About 30% of Hispanic women live in poverty in South Dakota.

In February of this year, Wallethub ranked the state 24th overall in the best and worst states for women. It was 14th in economic well being but 41st in health and safety.

Although there is a national trend in increasing home ownership by single women, in South Dakota single men owned a greater share of the homes at 11.97% compared to women at 11.29%, according to Forbes.

The Varo survey asked about the past six months. For those living paycheck-to-paycheck daily living expenses was the top concern. That was not broken down by sex. The next top concern was not enough savings and too much debt.

South Dakota is one of many states where credit card debt is growing. Multiple recent reports show the average credit card debt for households is about $6,000. Forbes Advisor said the state ranked 39th in credit card debt.

In general, men carry more debt than women in the U.S., according to multiple reports. But women tend to have more student loan and credit card debt.