This is already a banner year for financial security.
Americans say they're feeling less pessimistic about their job security, savings and debt, overall financial situation and net worth, according to Bankrate's Financial Security Index for February. The monthly reading, which is based on a national survey, rose to its highest level in the four-year history of the survey with a reading of 104.8. That surpasses a previous record high in January.
Any reading above 100 indicates improved financial security over the past 12 months.
Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate's chief financial analyst, says the index showed improvement in every area that was part of the survey. Americans have long expressed an increased level of concern over their savings, McBride says. Yet, this area also improved.
Those who are less comfortable with their savings, when compared with a year before, usually outnumber those who are more comfortable by a 2-to-1 margin. In February, 28 percent said they were less comfortable with their savings, while 22 percent said they were more comfortable.
The Financial Security Index is based on a telephone survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The survey was taken from Jan. 5 to 8 with 1,003 adults living in the continental U.S. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
- 32% of people between the ages of 30 and 49 said they had more credit card debt. That compares with 21% for those between 18 and 29 and 14% for those who are 65 years old or more.
- Among those with the lowest incomes (under $30,000 a year), more than one-fifth had neither credit card debt nor savings. That compares with 5% of those with the highest incomes ($75,000 or more per year).
- Millennials (ages 18-29) and people of retirement age (age 65 and older) were the most likely to say they had more in an emergency fund or savings.
How do you feel about your job security compared with 12 months ago?
- One-third of urban dwellers said they felt more secure, compared with 20% of suburbanites and 19% of those living in rural areas.
- 34% of Democrats said they felt more secure, compared with 18% of Republicans.
- 37% of millennials (ages 18-29) said they felt more secure, compared with 18% of those nearing retirement age (ages 50-64).
How do you feel about the amount of money you have in savings compared with 12 months ago?
- One-third of unemployed workers said they felt less comfortable, compared with one-quarter of those who had jobs.
- 29% of college graduates said they were more comfortable, compared with 14% of people who never attended college.
- 37% of those making between $30,000 and $49,900 per year said they felt less comfortable, compared with 21% of those making $75,000 or more.
How do you feel about the amount of debt you have compared with 12 months ago?
- Among those nearing retirement age (ages 50-64), one-quarter said they felt less comfortable, compared with 12% of millennials and 17% of those between the ages of 30 and 49.
- 34% of people who had full-time or part-time work said they felt more comfortable, compared with 22% of those who are unemployed.
- 22% of Southerners said they felt less comfortable, compared with 14% of those living in the West.
Please think about your net worth, or your total assets, including any real estate equity, minus your debts. Compared with 12 months ago, is your net worth:
- 31% of men said their net worth was higher, compared with 24% of women.
- 44% of college graduates said it was higher, compared with 27% of those who never finished college.
- 31% of those living in the Midwest said it was higher, compared with 17% of those living in the Northeast.
Compared with 12 months ago, do you feel your overall financial situation is:
- 21% of Southerners said their overall financial situation was worse, compared with 12% of those living in the Northeast.
- 47% of those with full-time jobs said it was better, compared with 23% of those who had only part-time work.
- Those who had only a high school education were twice as likely to say that their situation was worse, compared with those who had graduated from college.
Editor's note: Percentages may not equal 100, due to rounding.