With the growing shift toward a “gig” economy, many Canadians are struggling with the impact that volatility in their income has on their ability to save and plan for the future, according to a new survey from Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD).

Specifically, of the 3,000 adult Canadians polled, about 37% experience a moderate to high level of fluctuation to their income, the survey suggests. This figure roughly translates to 10 million Canadians; of this group, some 3.3 million individuals may see their earnings vary by 25% or more.

Income volatility, the report finds, affects a broad range of demographics, from younger millennials and mature Generation X (45-54 years old) men to seasonal and self-employed workers. Among Gen-X men, for example, the report finds that 47% don’t have a stable source of income.

“Our aim was to take an emerging issue — income volatility — and to shed light on how it’s affecting the day-to-day lives of Canadians,” says Bharat Masrani, CEO and group president of TD, in a statement. “Our findings suggest that impact is both pervasive and profound — making it hard for many people to live the life they want.”

Much of the cause for economic precarity can be attributed to a changing labour market in which having multiple gigs, varying work hours and self-employment have become the norm.

With many unable to project their earnings from month to month, financial advisors might look to address how clients with variable incomes can find a firmer financial footing, perhaps by setting aside an emergency fund or helping establish a flexible budget.

Without a reliable paycheque for plotting out their finances over time, many have fallen behind on saving and financial planning. In fact, of all those surveyed, for example, only 27% say they have a long-term plan for reaching their financial goals vs 40% who have a partial plan and 30% who don’t.

When it comes to accounting for large, irregular expenses, most (59%) make an effort to plan ahead, but sticking to a monthly budget is still a tough sell, with just 35% saying they draft one every month.

Given this financial strain, the report notes, many aren’t able to attend to immediate concerns, whether it’s purchasing groceries or paying monthly bills. Not surprising, it’s those with high levels of income volatility who are twice as likely to feel under constant pressure to stay afloat than those who have a more dependable stream of income.

“Income volatility can erode people’s confidence in creating a future they want for themselves,” Masrani says.

Ipsos Canada compiled the survey online from April 13-23 on behalf of TD.

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