Gender, age, income and the presence of minor children are primary indicators of financial stress, new report finds.
American workers felt financial stress more keenly in 2013, but fewer blamed external factors such as the stock market or the U.S. economy, a new report finds.
Employees are recognizing that their financial vulnerabilities are most likely resulting from factors they can control,” according to new research released by Financial Finesse, a financial education company. The percentage of U.S. workers citing the U.S. economy and stock market as the primary causes of their financial stress dropped last year to 43 percent from 47 percent in 2012. But the percentage of employees who reported concern about not being able to meet future financial goals as the main cause of their financial stress rose to 42 percent from 35 percent.
Overall, for the full year of 2013, just 14 percent of U.S. workers said they have no financial stress, while almost two-thirds (63 percent) said they have some. Eighteen percent felt that their financial stress level in high, with 5 percent at a point where their financial stress is overwhelming.
Not surprisingly, gender, age, income and the presence of minor children are primary indicators of financial stress, Financial Finesse reports. Twenty-seven percent of women compared to 17 percent of men reported high or overwhelming levels of financial stress. Similarly, one-fourth of U.S. workers under the age of 30 report the same severe levels of financial stress vs. 14 percent of those ages 55 and older, while 37 percent of employees making less than $60,000 are similarly stressed compared to 14 percent of those making more than $100,000. Twenty-nine percent of employees with minor children are feeling extreme financial stress compared with 19 percent of those without minor children.
“Now that the economy has stabilized for the most part, employees are taking the opportunity to assess their situations in more detail,” observed Liz Davidson, Financial Finesse CEO and founder, in a statement. “They’ve stepped on the financial scale, so to speak, and are going, ‘Wow, this is worse than I thought.’ This is a good thing even if it is causing them to feel more stress…because they seem to recognize that they can longer point to the stock market or the economy as the reason for their discomfort; they’re taking action to address their vulnerabilities through factors they themselves can control.”
These include paying their bills on time each month, establishing an emergency fund, keeping their debt level in check, and participating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k). Accordingly, those who have taken these actions report having the lowest financial stress, whereas only 20 percent of U.S. workers with “overwhelming” financial stress report having a handle on their monthly cash flow.
But levels are down from 2011 in financial wellness measures. The percentage of those reporting they had a handle on their monthly cash flow dropped from 73 percent in 2011 to 68 percent in 2013. Likewise, 57 percent said three years ago they had an emergency fund vs. 52 percent last year. The percentage of those who regularly pay off their credit card balances in full also dropped from 62 percent in 2011 to 55 percent last year.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.