Financial Security Index
Financial Security Index
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Financial Security Index: Americans wary

Not enough savings. Too much debt. Serious concerns about the security of their jobs.

Those were feelings expressed by surprisingly large numbers of Americans in a new national poll conducted for Bankrate.

The survey found that, as 2010 comes to a close, many Americans have a troubling sense of unease about their financial well-being.

Among the findings:

  • Roughly 1 of every 3 Americans feels their overall financial situation is worse than a year ago.
  • Over 1 in 4 Americans believes their net worth is down from a year ago.
  • Over 1 in 5 feels less secure about their job than they did in 2009.

This survey, Bankrate's first Financial Security Index, was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. And the surprisingly grim sentiments expressed by many Americans run counter to a number of economic indicators that indicate improvement in the U.S. economy.

"The recession may be over, but the American public's pre recession sense of security remains badly bruised."

There has been 12 consecutive months of growth in private-sector payrolls, for instance. Economists have concluded that the Great Recession actually ended in the first half of 2009. And recent rallies in the financial markets have begun to restore the wealth lost when Wall Street crashed in 2008.

But the Financial Security Index findings suggest that broad swaths of the public remain unconvinced of the economy is recovering, or are at least unimpressed by the pace of improvement.

In that sense, the most important conclusion to be drawn from the survey might be this: The recession may be over, but the American public's pre-recession sense of security remains badly bruised.

Here is a look at some of the survey's most important findings.

Job security

Roughly 1 million jobs have been added to private sector payrolls since December 2009. But many Americans remain unconvinced their jobs are safe.

Nearly one-fourth of the working population, 23 percent, say they feel less secure about their jobs than they did one year ago. That compares unfavorably with the 17 percent who feel more secure.

The uneasiness is understandable. As of the November, more than 15 million workers remained unemployed. Meanwhile, unemployment has been above 9 percent for 19 straight months, a post-World War II record.

Nearly one-fifth, or 19 percent, of unemployed Americans are actively looking for work. Meanwhile, 6 percent of the unemployed said that they are not looking for work, perhaps a reflection of the "disenchanted" workers that economists often refer to.

Savings

In light of Americans' unease with their employment situations, savings are a priority for nearly everyone.

Yet, only 14 percent of Americans say they feel more comfortable with their savings today compared to a year ago. A whopping 44 percent of people say they feel less comfortable than they did one year ago.

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Thirty-nine percent of Americans say they feel about the same as they did last year.

Young people reported the highest level of comfort with savings, with 23 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds reporting comfortable levels of savings.

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