Workers reporting they have no financial stress has risen from 3 percent in 2009 to 15 percent last year.
American workers are less focused on the U.S. economy and the stock market than they are on their own financial situations as a source of financial stress, according to a new Financial Finesse annual study of employees’ financial issues released Wednesday.
Thirty-six percent of workers surveyed said they worry about the economy and stock market conditions, down from 43 percent the previous year. Forty-four percent fret they will not meet their financial goals, up two percentage points from 2013, while 34 percent indicate their financial situation is not under control, up slightly from last year.
While 85 percent reported having some level of financial stress in 2014, this percentage has leveled off since 2013, when there was a spike in those reporting high or overwhelming financial stress (18 percent in 2012 to 23 percent). On an encouraging note, workers reporting they have no financial stress has risen from 3 percent in 2009 to 15 percent last year. Those reporting some financial stress is down from 64 percent six years ago to 62 percent, while those gripped by high or overwhelming financial stress is down from one-third in 2009 to 23 percent.
This reflects a concerted effort to improve financial behaviors, the study finds. Nearly nine-in-ten (88 percent) report they contribute to a retirement plan at work, while an equal percentage say they pay their bills on time each month. Seven-in-ten believe they have a handle on their cash flow so they spend less than they make each month, while 55 percent regularly pay off their credit card balances in full.
Just over half (52 percent) have established an emergency fund to pay their bills for a few months should they lose their job.
Men are more likely than women to self-report a handle on their personal finances. Eight-in-ten, for example said they have a handle on their monthly cash flow, compared with 66 percent of women. Similarly, 67 percent of men say they regularly pay off their credit card balances in full vs. just half of women.
This, though, may be more a reflection of women’s lack of confidence in their financial knowledge and money management and not their actual behavior.
In one area, though, men and women are on equal footing—89 percent said they contribute to their workplace retirement plan.
Across all age groups, saving for retirement is the top financial planning priority. But whereas Millennials are more focused on not having enough savings to cover emergencies and serious debt, Baby Boomers are more concerned than their younger counterparts about their wealth not being adequately protected.
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.