Americans’ feelings about their finances have shifted into a higher gear as October’s partial government shutdown fades in the rearview mirror. Bankrate’s Financial Security Index has rebounded from last month, though it shows consumers’ comfort levels are still somewhat lower than they were a year ago.
The index for November stands at 99.3, a reading that — since it’s below 100 — reflects weaker financial security compared with last year at this time. Even so, the index has jumped 1.9 points from the October level of 97.4.
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.
Last month’s reading represented a “shutdown-induced low,” says Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “For eight of the first nine months of the year, Americans feeling more secure in their jobs outnumbered those feeling less secure. But this reversed course sharply in October,” he says.
This month, the number of people registering job insecurity continued to top those feeling more secure at work, but the gap has narrowed.
Bankrate’s Financial Security Index is based on a poll of consumers’ assessments of their job security, savings, debt, worth and overall financial situation.
Net worth is the November bright spot, with 29 percent saying they feel more flush than they did a year ago, while just 16 percent report lower net worth. “Given the improving housing market and strong stock market performance, it’s not surprising that the propensity to report higher net worth increases with income,” McBride says.
Americans are evenly split when it comes to debt and their overall financial situation, with roughly equal numbers feeling more comfortable and less comfortable about those things.
But savings is an issue that continues to gnaw at consumers. Those who feel less secure about their savings than they did a year ago outnumber those who feel more secure by a ratio of more than 2-to-1, a finding that has been fairly consistent throughout this year. If your savings are in need of a jump-start, take a look at the savings rates at Bankrate.com.