Americans’ sense of financial well-being is cooling off somewhat, though not enough to break a hot streak for Bankrate’s Financial Security Index.
The index is down for the second straight month, falling 1.5 points in August to 100.5, and that’s after hitting an all-time high of 102.7 back in June.
Bankrate’s Financial Security Index gauges how Americans feel today versus a year ago on vital financial matters. An index value of less than 100 indicates declining levels of financial security; a value greater than 100 reveals higher levels of security compared to 12 months ago.
“This was, however, the sixth consecutive month above 100,” notes Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. Any reading above 100 is considered positive, pointing to greater financial security compared to a year ago.
While scores slipped for all the components making up the index — measuring Americans’ feelings about their job security, savings, debt, net worth and overall financial situation — 4 out of the 5 have remained in territory indicating improvement over last year, McBride says.
“Savings is still the weak spot,” he says, “with those saying they’re less comfortable with savings now outnumbering those that are more comfortable by almost 2-to-1. Consumers have voiced this same negative sentiment on savings every month since polling began in December 2010.”
Only 18 percent of the survey respondents said they now feel more comfortable with their savings than they did a year ago. People of retirement age seem particularly concerned about their savings, with just 11 percent of those 65 or older saying they’re more comfortable with what they have set aside.
It’s also noteworthy, McBride says, that while those surveyed were more inclined to be optimistic, not pessimistic, about job security, that was not the case at the highest income levels.
Among households earning $75,000 per year or more, feelings of job security turned negative following the government’s disappointing jobs report released at the beginning of August, he says. Unemployment fell to 7.4 percent in July, but that was amid weak job growth and as more people gave up looking for work.