Americans' confidence in their jobs helped keep financial security in positive territory, according to a monthly reading from Bankrate.
Bankrate's Financial Security Index hit 103.7 for March. That's slightly lower than February's record high, but it's still the second highest reading since Bankrate started tracking financial security in 2010. Any index above 100 indicates improved financial security over the past 12 months.
According to a survey that accompanied the index, people who felt more secure about their jobs outnumbered those who felt less secure by more than a 2-to-1 margin.
Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate's chief financial analyst, noted that the continued decline in the nation's unemployment rate has helped people feel more secure with their jobs. The jobless rate dropped to 5.5 percent in February from 6.7 percent a year before, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
People also expressed especially strong feelings about their net worth and overall financial situation. They were positive about their levels of debt. Also, long-term concerns about savings appear to be on the decline.
The Financial Security Index is based on a telephone survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The survey was taken March 5-8 with 1,000 adults living in the continental U.S. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
- Hispanics were more than twice as likely as whites to say they don't save any of their income.
- People with larger salaries were more likely to invest a larger portion of their income. Those with incomes of $75,000 or more were twice as likely to invest more than 15% of their income as people making under $30,000 a year.
- People living in urban areas were more than twice as likely as suburbanites to invest more than 15% of their income.
How do you feel about your job security compared with 12 months ago?
- Americans were more than twice as likely to say they were more secure than less secure about their jobs.
- Age makes a difference: 35% of people between 18 and 29 said they were more secure today, compared with 15% of those who were 65 and older.
- One-third of people identifying as non-white said they were more secure, compared with about a quarter of people identifying as white.
How do you feel about the amount of money you have in savings compared with 12 months ago?
- Among women, 30% said they were less comfortable with their savings. Among men, 23% said they were less comfortable.
- One-third of Americans between 18 and 29 years old were more comfortable, compared with 18% of those between 50 and 64.
- People with jobs were more than twice as likely to say they were more comfortable as those who were unemployed.
How do you feel about the amount of debt you have compared with 12 months ago?
- Among college grads, 27% said they were more comfortable with their levels of debt, compared with 20% of people who never went to college.
- Among people earning $75,000 or more, 31% said they were more comfortable, compared with 19% of those who earn less than $30,000.
- Among those living in the West, 30% said they were more comfortable, compared with 18% of those living in the Midwest.
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 is higher today. Only 22% of women said the same thing.
- College grads were more than twice as likely as people who never attended college to say their net worth is higher today.
- People who have jobs are more than twice as likely as those without them to say that their net worth is higher today.
Compared with 12 months ago, do you feel your overall financial situation is:
- 33% of men said their overall financial situation is better today, compared with 25% of women.
- 36% of people between 18 and 29 said it's better today, compared with 15% of those 65 and older.
- 38% of people living in the West said it's better today, compared with 25% of those living in the South.
Editor's note: Percentages may not equal 100, due to rounding.