Study Shows Americans Are Doing Better Financially07/14/2016
Americans are finding it easier to pay their bills and are increasingly satisfied with their finances, but minorities and young people are still struggling financially, according to a new Finra study.
The report, Financial Capability in the United States 2016, shows that the proportion of people who have set aside enough money to cover living expenses for three months has increased from 40% in 2012 to 46% in 2015.
The share who “find it not at all difficult covering expenses and paying bills” rose to 48% in 2015 from 40% in 2012, and the proportion of those who are “certain” they could come up with $2,000 in the next month to meet an unexpected need rose to 39% from 35%.
“Fewer Americans are having difficulty making ends meet, more have put aside emergency funds, homeowners are on a firmer financial footing and financial satisfaction levels are higher,” states the report commissioned by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.
Finra conducted the last survey in 2012 and the first one in 2009. The results in this year’s report are based on an online survey of 25,509 adults between June and October 2015.
The organization cautioned, however, that not all people are benefiting from the ongoing economic recovery.
“The signs of improvement in financial capability are not universal,” the report states. “Many demographic groups – including African-Americans, Hispanics, members of the millennial generation and those without a college education – are at a disadvantage when it comes to making ends meet, planning ahead, managing financial products and financial knowledge.”
The study also shows some other stress points.
For instance, more than a quarter of respondents “have avoided some kind of medical service in the past year due to cost concerns” and don’t seem to be saving for the long term – the portion of people participating in retirement savings accounts hasn’t improved since the first survey six years ago.
The report also evaluated states on measures of financial capability.
Montana ranked the highest on the number of correct answers its residents gave on six questions about basic finance, such as compound interest, inflation, portfolio diversification and the relationship between bond prices and interest rates. Texas was the lowest-ranked state on the quiz.