The week's buzz: Working for a living, and for a longer time

Sep. 16, 2011 at 11:49 AM ET

The news this week that Americans’ real median income fell for the third year in a row may help explain why so many people are spending every penny they earn.

About 40 percent of Life Inc. readers who responded to our survey told us they are living paycheck to paycheck, while about the same percentage said they are able to save a bit from their earnings.

The rest aren’t making enough to cover their expenses.

The struggle to make ends meet had many readers feeling frustrated after so many years of economic woes.

“America, land of opportunity - But opportunity for what?” one reader wrote.

The fact that many Americans feel so cash-strapped helps explain why companies are increasingly marketing to lower-income consumers rather than the middle class, or abandoning both to just focus on selling to the rich.

After scraping by for so many working years, many people look forward to spending their golden years in retirement. But is that something we’re going to be able to do in the coming decades?

A post this week about whether Americans should be working longer given our rising life expectancy generated a heated discussion about Social Security, retirement savings and quality of life.

“Live longer only to work longer? Not much of a tradeoff. If increased longevity is going to be squandered working then I want out,” one reader wrote.

There was a time when many Americans expected to stay at the same job from college through retirement, but now we’ve become a nation of job-hoppers, by choice or chance. Another post this week about how American employers may hold multiple jobs against you in the hiring process had many readers feeling frustrated.

“As an IT professional, most of my jobs have been contracts that last 2 years or less, so I do have a lot of jobs on my resume, and I've gained valuable experience from that. I can't believe that in this economy, changing jobs is being held against people. When employers treat employees like chattel that they can drop on a whim, don't expect loyalty back. When the economy recovers, you will see employees fleeing like crazy from lousy employers,” one reader wrote.

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