Toy house and rolls of moneyHourly workers, living nearer the bottom of the wage scale, areunderstandably worried about day-to-day expenses.Nearly 60 percent listed home/rent affordability as theirtop financial concern. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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A new survey of hourly workers finds them desiring higher wages,but generally optimistic about their job prospects. The study ofmore than 3,000 hourly employees was conducted by Branch, atechnology platform that provides services such as pay advancesthrough its app. The inaugural Branch Report was designed to gatherinformation on financial, work and lifestyle interests of hourlyworkers in industries such as retail, food, and health care.

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Branch researchers found that nearly 70 percent (69.4) ofworkers said they were optimistic about their job prospects, eventhough they were less positive about the economy overall—50.1percent expressed optimism about the economy.

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Related: It's a good time to be ajob-hopper

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Less optimism about the larger economic landscape might be thereason that hourly workers were twice as interested in using theirwork experience to earn a promotion at their current employer(31.9 percent) as they were in switching jobs (15.7 percent).

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“Even with the demand for hourly employees at an all-time highand having their pick of employers, more hourly employees arelooking to grow within their current company rather than switch,”said Branch CEO Atif Siddiqi. “But there's a vast disconnectbetween employees' career development and their employers.Employers have a tremendous opportunity to retain their employeesby providing tools that can help them increase earning potentialand financial stability.”

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Pocket book worries, few savings

Hourly workers, living nearer the bottom of the wage scale, areunderstandably worried about day-to-day expenses. Nearly 60 percent (58.4)listed home/rent affordability as their top financial concern.Renters dominated the survey at 56.6 percent); 26.9 percent livedwith friends or family for free; and 16.5 percent contributed to amortgage. Utility bills (47.1 percent) and groceries (42.4 percent)were the second and third top financial concerns.

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One third of respondents (32.2 percent) listed medical/healthcare as their top financial concern—and older workersoverwhelmingly listed it as a top concern: 82 percent of those age50-plus said health care was their top financial concern. In theage 40-49 group, health care (51.7 percent) was second, behindhome/rent (57 percent) and just ahead of utility bills (50.7percent).

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When it came to savings, more than 75 percent of respondentssaid they had less than $500 saved for emergencies (75.8 percent)with 40 percent saying they had nothing at all saved foremergencies.

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Wanted: improved pay; better scheduling

When asked what their workplace goals were, 63.4 percent ofthose surveyed listed higher wages. But scheduling was also apriority: 57 percent of respondents said they wanted a stable,predictable schedule and 38 percent wanted greater flexibility andcontrol over their hours.

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“Because earnings are directly tied to the number of hoursworked, unstable, unpredictable hours can undermine financialsecurity for workers of all ages,” said Susan Lambert, PhD, anassociate professor in the School of Social Service Administrationat the University of Chicago. “The findings of the Branch surveyare consistent with other research indicating that many hourlyworkers desire more stable and predictable work hours.”

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