This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

Savings and loans

This week, Need to Know travels to rural Vermont, where local businesses had a common problem: many of their lower-wage workers were consistently late or absent. Most of these workers were being derailed by small financial crises: a broken-down car, medical bills, parenting demands. In response, dozens of employers, along with a branch of the local United Way, formed “Working Bridges” — a program that gives worker an immediate short-term loan — an “income advance” – no questions asked. The loans are then paid off through small paycheck deductions.

In this program, we visit employers implementing the program, who agree it has dramatically reduced employee turnover and increased productivity. It has also brought many workers financial stability for the first time; once loans are paid off, their payroll deductions are automatically diverted into savings accounts unless the employee chooses to end them — which most do not. Making saving the default option is a classic example of behavioral economics at work.


Prescription for savings

In this Need to Know web extra, we meet the employees at Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington who have also taken advantage the “Working Bridges” program.

Save USA

Save USA is a program created by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and funded with federal, state, and private dollars. It’s designed to get low-income New Yorkers to put that tax refund in a savings account instead of spending it right away.

American Voices: Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, talks about why saving money is so difficult for many people and how simple changes in policy can make saving easier.

Payday Lending

Do payday loans take advantage of the poor? Or do they extend much-needed loans to consumers with no other access to credit?

Watch more from Need

  • thumb
    Main Street: Findlay, Ohio
    Need to Know travels to Ohio to assess how workers are faring after the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs over the past 35 years.
  • thumb
    Following the money: Tax breaks
    New CBO report echoes the findings of Need to Know's "A tale or four tax returns."
  • thumb
      Certifiably employable
    Rick Karr recently visited Seattle to look at a program designed to give the unemployed the skills they need to find jobs in one of the country’s fastest-growing industries.