Intro: Americans' feelings of financial security hit a 17-month high in April, according to Bankrate.com's monthly Financial Security Index. What contributed to this surge? Here to help break it down is Greg McBride, senior financial analyst with Bankrate.com.
Kristin: Greg, what is behind the increase in how people feel about their financial security, and where do we stand now?
Greg: Thanks to a buoyant stock market, consumers' feelings of net worth and their overall financial situations hit 17-month highs also. And while people still aren't comfortable with their savings, the reading has improved 5 months in a row. Put all that together, and the Financial Security Index is sitting at the cusp of - get this - people actually feeling that their financial security is improving.
Kristin: That's certainly good news. But with the March jobs report coming in softer than expected, with just 120,000 new jobs being added, did this affect how consumers feel about their job security?
Greg: Yes it did, Kristin. After 3 consecutive months of positive feelings about job security, the reading slipped back into negative territory this month, with those feeling less secure in their jobs outpacing those that are more secure for the first time since December.
Kristin: Shifting gears just a little bit, with interest rates at record lows and the stock market near a 4-year high, are consumers warming to the idea of investing in stocks at all?
Greg: No, they're not. More than 3-out-of-4 Americans, 76 percent, say they are not more inclined to invest in the stock market now that savings rates are so low. And this was fairly steady across all age brackets. Even those under age 30 - those that have the longest time horizons and the greatest burden of retirement savings - are only slightly more inclined to invest in the stock market, with just 23 percent saying so. These responses are certainly consistent with the ongoing trend of investors pulling money out of stocks and continuing to pour money into more conservative investments.
TAG: To see more of this month's poll, and how your feelings of financial security stack up against other Americans, just visit our website, Bankrate.com. I'm Kristin Arnold.