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In U.S., Slim Majority Confident About Financial Future

In U.S., Slim Majority Confident About Financial Future
by Alyssa Davis

Story Highlights

  • 53% "very" or "somewhat" confident about financial future
  • Lower-income Americans most insecure
  • Financial outlook linked to views of national economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A small majority of Americans, 53%, say they feel at least somewhat confident about their financial future, including 15% who feel "very" confident. Meanwhile, nearly half (46%) report feeling at least somewhat insecure about their financial future, including 17% who feel "very" insecure.

Americans' Assessments of their Financial Future
Thinking about your income and expenses -- do you feel very confident, somewhat confident, somewhat insecure or very insecure about your financial future?
U.S. adults
%
Very confident 15
Somewhat confident 38
Somewhat insecure 29
Very insecure 17
Gallup Poll, May 18-22, 2016

Americans' slight tilt toward feeling confident about their financial future in the May 18-22 Gallup poll comes as consumer spending remains healthy, gas prices are significantly lower than in recent years, and U.S. workers' reports of hiring activity are at a new high. There are also possible signs of wage growth, and fewer Americans report struggling to afford food and healthcare than at any point since 2008.

Gallup asked this question once before in January 2016, and the results were similar then.

Lower-Income, Those Nearing Retirement Age Most Insecure

Lower-income earners, the least financially confident of all groups, are more than four times as likely as upper-income earners and more than twice as likely as middle-income earners to feel very insecure. Those aged 50 to 64 are more likely than all other age groups to say they are very insecure about their financial future, possibly reflecting their concerns about saving enough for retirement.

Financial confidence is similar across party identification groups.

Americans' Confidence in Financial Future, by Subgroup
Very confident Somewhat confident Somewhat insecure Very insecure
% % % %
Age
18-29 years 14 36 32 18
30-49 years 16 42 26 15
50-64 years 13 36 31 21
65+ years 19 34 31 15
Annual household income
Less than $30,000 5 28 28 37
$30,000 to less than $75,000 13 37 35 14
$75,000+ 24 44 24 8
Party identification
Republican 13 40 31 15
Independent 16 35 29 19
Democrat 16 39 27 17
Gallup Poll, May 18-22, 2016

Confidence in Financial Future Tied to Views of U.S. Economy

Americans' evaluations of their own financial future are closely related to how they view the broader U.S. economy. In the same May 18-22 survey, Gallup asked whether they think the U.S. economy is growing, staying the same or shrinking. Americans who say the U.S. economy is growing are more than twice as likely to say they are confident in their financial future as to say they are insecure. And the reverse is also true: Those who say the economy is shrinking are much more likely to be insecure than to be confident about their future financial situation.

Americans' Confidence in Financial Future, by Views of U.S. Economy
Growing Staying the same Shrinking
% % %
Very confident 23 12 11
Somewhat confident 45 45 29
Somewhat insecure 22 33 34
Very insecure 10 11 25
Gallup Poll, May 18-22, 2016

The relationship between financial confidence and views of the economy holds across all income groups. Those who are more positive about the U.S. economy are more confident in their financial future.

While there is a strong relationship between financial confidence and views of the economy, the direction is unclear. Americans' personal financial situations may color their views of the national economy, or their views of the national economy may be shaping their assessment of their financial future.

Implications

A slight majority of Americans are optimistic about their financial future, but there is significant room for improvement -- even among those who are confident. More than twice as many Americans are only "somewhat" confident as opposed to "very" confident in their financial future, and confidence is uneven across key segments of the population.

Economists expect the gross domestic product to accelerate in the second quarter, driven by strong consumer spending. Given the relationship between financial optimism and views of the U.S. economy, news of improved economic growth could potentially boost Americans' financial confidence -- at least temporarily. But the public likely would need to see evidence of sustained job creation and economic growth before their assessments of their financial future brighten.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 18-22, 2016, with a random sample of 1,530 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

Gallup


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