Many Americans Feel Financially Insecure, Poll Shows

Thursday, 23 Feb 2012 07:52 AM

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A new poll finds that a large percentage of Americans consider themselves financially insecure, despite the apparent recovery of the economy and a rising stock market.

A quarter of Americans said they had more credit card debt than emergency savings and 16 percent have no credit card debt but also no emergency savings, according to the poll, conducted for the financial web site Bankrate.com.

Despite four straight months of improving sentiment, consumers' overall financial situation is still seen as negative. Twenty-seven percent of Americans report a lower level of financial security now versus one year ago and 24 percent report a higher level.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans are less comfortable with their savings now compared with one year ago; only 14 percent said they are more comfortable.

Editor's Note: Wall Street Whistleblower Warns of Meltdown, See His Uncensored Interview

Bankrate's monthly Financial Security Index held at 97.3, unchanged from January. Any reading below 100 indicates a lower level of financial security compared with 12 months earlier.

"Emergency savings remains a problem area for many Americans, which leaves them only one unplanned expense away from having high-cost debt," said Bankrate Senior Financial Analyst Greg McBride.

"Long-term unemployment, stagnant wage growth and rising household expenses are all contributing to this trend. As difficult as it may be to boost savings, having an adequate emergency savings cushion is critical to maintaining financial stability, and Americans need to find ways to sock away more cash for a rainy day."

As to job security, consumers are slightly positive, with 20 percent feeling more secure than one year ago and 19 percent feeling less secure, up from 17 percent in January.

Consumers have reported less negativity about their savings in each of the past three months, with fewer feeling less comfortable and more feeling about the same as 12 months ago.

Additional findings of the Bankrate poll included:

• Households with income of $75,000 or more per year, college graduates, and retirees are the most likely to have more in emergency savings than credit card debt.

• Parents are the most likely to have more credit card debt than emergency savings.

• Those most likely to have neither credit card debt nor emergency savings are households with income of less than $30,000 per year, those with a high school education or less, and the unemployed.

In a similar Bankrate poll conducted one year ago, 52 percent of Americans had more emergency savings than credit card debt. Twenty-three percent had more credit card debt than emergency savings and 19 percent had neither credit card debt nor emergency savings.

The study was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). The poll was done via telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,006 adults living in the continental United States.

Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


Editor's Note: Wall Street Whistleblower Warns of Meltdown, See His Uncensored Interview

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