Survey: Despite Booming Economy, Most Americans Aren’t Financially Healthy

A worker at an American Rhino apparel store folds items this week in Boston. Despite low unemployment, a survey by USC and the Center for Financial Services Innovation found a minority of Americans have their financial house in order, while most are still struggling financially. (Steven Senne / AP)
A worker at an American Rhino apparel store folds items this week in Boston. Despite low unemployment, a survey by USC and the Center for Financial Services Innovation found a minority of Americans have their financial house in order, while most are still struggling financially. (Steven Senne / AP)

The economy is growing, unemployment is low and, lately, workers are starting to see some wage gains.

But a new survey from USC and the nonprofit Center for Financial Services Innovation makes the case that, despite an overall healthy-looking economy, many Americans are struggling to save, pay bills and remain on firm financial footing.

The survey, called the Financial Health Pulse, found that only 28% of American households are financially healthy, meaning they are in control of their spending, are saving money, don’t have too much debt and are planning for the unforeseen.

An additional 55% are financially coping — struggling in a few areas, but doing OK in others — while 17% are classified as financially vulnerable, meaning they are struggling with most aspects of their financial lives.

Jennifer Tescher, CFSI’s chief executive, said the goal of the survey, which the group plans to do annually, is to get a sense of how Americans are doing without relying on the kind of high-level economic data that policymakers typically focus on.

“There’s this rosy-eyed view of what’s going on in the economy that does not comport with what’s going on on Main Street,” she said. “There’s a significant disconnect between the data and people’s lives.”

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SOURCE: JAMES RUFUS KOREN
The Los Angeles Times