Many Americans remain in precarious economic shape even as the economy continues to grow, with 7 in 10 saying that they are struggling with at least one aspect of financial stability, such as paying bills or saving money.
The findings come from a survey of more than 5,400 Americans from the Financial Health Network, an ideal financial services consultancy. The project, which started a year ago, is aimed at assessing people's financial health by asking about debt, savings, bills and salaries.
Despite solid U.S. economic growth this year, the proportion of Americans struggling financially remains unchanged from a year ago, said Rob Levy, vice president of research and measurement with the Financial Health Network.
The study adds a wealth of research indicating that millions of American families have trouble making ends meet another decade after the Great Recession, and unemployment has dropped to its lowest level in decades.
For example, the central think tank Urban Institute has found that 4 out of 10 Americans are fighting to pay for basic needs such as groceries or housing. And a Zillow report released Thursday found that about a quarter of tenants say paying their payments is difficult or very difficult.
Not only the poor are facing financial pressure, the new study suggests. Nearly 20% of people earning between $ 30,000 and $ 100,000 said they spent more than they earned – an increase of more than 4 percentage points from last year.
"It suggests that a proper squeeze is put on the middle class," Levy said. "Revenue doesn't keep up with spending."
Women also feel the strain more than men, the study found. About 20% of women said their finances cause significant stress, compared to about 13% of men who said so.
In total, about 3 in 10 Americans are considered financially healthy, the findings show. This means that they do not struggle with any of the goals measured by the Financial Health Network, which uses, saves, borrows and financial planning.
"It's not just about income," Levy noted. "You can be low-income and financially healthy."
About 17% are considered financially vulnerable, which means they are struggling to fulfill every aspect of their financial lives, the study found. About 54% "cope", which means they can't handle at least one of the economic factors.
Changes in wealth
Americans also report big swings in their financial wealth – both positive and negative, the study found. Because the researchers surveyed around 4,300 of those surveyed in last year's study, they were able to track how their financial stability changed, Levy said.
Nonprofit based its assessment on a 100-point score for financial health. More than half of the longitudinal sample experienced a median turn of 7.5 points, they found. It may reflect a positive change, such as an increase or a negative, like losing a job.
"We didn't think people's lives would change that much," he said. "It's like a game & # 39; Chutes and Ladders & # 39; that has consequences for stress."