Financial security among Americans improved in September as consumers showed especially strong confidence in their job security and net worth, according to a monthly survey by Bankrate.com.
Bankrate’s Financial Security Index increased to 100.4, compared with 99.5 from the same period last year. The index, which is based on a national telephone survey, indicates an improvement in financial security over the past 12 months when it rises above 100.
The survey estimated that 26 percent of Americans feel more secure about their jobs compared with a year ago, while 14 percent feel less secure. Another 59 percent said they felt the same. The survey also estimated that 27 percent of Americans had a higher net worth this year compared with last year, while net worth declined for another 20 percent.
Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst, said that record highs in the stock market, as well as continued increases in home prices, contributed to the strong feelings about job security and net worth.
Bankrate’s monthly survey measures how secure Americans feel about their personal finances compared with 12 months ago. From Sept. 4-7, telephone interviews (on landlines and cellphones) with 1,003 adults living in the continental U.S. were conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The results of Bankrate’s Financial Security Index have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. This month, the index held steady at 100.4.
Over the next 12 months, do you think home prices in general will go up, down or stay the same?
- 36% of people 65 years old and older said they thought prices would stay the same, compared with 26% of people between 18 and 29 years of age.
- People living in suburban and rural areas were more than twice as likely to say that prices would drop compared with urban dwellers.
- More than half of all respondents — regardless of education level — said they thought prices would rise.
How do you feel about your job security compared with 12 months ago?
- People nearing retirement (between ages 50 and 64) were more than twice as likely to say they felt less secure than millennials (between ages 18 and 29).
- 33% of men said they felt more secure, compared with 18% of women.
- 10% of parents said they felt less secure, compared with 17% of people who didn’t have children.
How do you feel about the amount of money you have in savings compared with 12 months ago?
- 42% of unemployed workers were less comfortable, compared with 29% of people with jobs.
- 39% of women said they were less comfortable, compared with 31% of men.
- 27% of people with college degrees were more comfortable, compared with 17% of people who had only some college experience.
How do you feel about the amount of debt you have compared with 12 months ago?
- 26% of men were more comfortable with their debt, compared with 18% of women.
- 27% of college grads said they were more comfortable, compared with 16% of those who never attended college.
- 27% of people living in the Northeast were more comfortable, compared with 18% from 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:
- 24% of people living in the South said their net worth was lower, compared with 15% of those in the Northeast.
- 37% of college grads said their net worth was higher, compared with 21% of those who never attended college.
- 34% of men said their net worth was higher, compared with 21% of women.
Compared with 12 months ago, do you feel your overall financial situation is:
- 30% of women said their overall situation is worse, compared with 22% of men.
- 38% of college grads said their situation is better, compared with 22% of those who never attended college.
- 36% of those still in the workforce said their situation is better, compared with 16% of retirees.
Editor’s note: Percentages may not equal 100, due to rounding.