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Americans More Upbeat About Personal Finances
Economy

Americans More Upbeat About Personal Finances

Americans More Upbeat About Personal Finances

Story Highlights

  • 53%, up from 49%, say their financial situation is excellent or good
  • By 41% to 37%, Americans say situation getting better rather than worse
  • Young adults less likely to report improvements

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Slightly more Americans today than two months ago rate their personal financial situation positively. A May 28-June 4 Gallup poll finds 53% of U.S. adults describing their personal finances as either "excellent" or "good," compared with 49% in early April, when most of the country was under stay-at-home orders, and the effects of these on the economy were more uncertain.

Americans are still not as positive about their finances as they were in 2019 (56%) but remain much more upbeat than during the 2007-2009 Great Recession and ensuing years of high unemployment.

Line graph. Currently, 41% of Americans say their financial situation is getting better and 37% say it is getting worse. In April, 50% said their situation was getting worse and 35% better.

In addition to the 53% evaluating their financial situation positively, 33% describe their finances as being "only fair" and 14% as "poor."

The increase in ratings of personal finances may reflect the return of millions of Americans to work, though unemployment remains higher than at any point since the Great Depression. The poll's fieldwork was completed before the federal government's June 5 announcement of an unexpected decline in the unemployment rate, from 14.7% to 13.3%.

Compared with the April survey, ratings of personal finances have improved the most among adults aged 65 and older. Also, middle-income Americans' ratings are similar to what they were in April, while those of people living in upper- and lower-income households are modestly better.

Younger and lower-income Americans are far less likely than others to say their finances are excellent or good.

Changes in Ratings of Personal Financial Situation, April vs. June
Figures are percentage rating their financial situation as excellent or good
April 2020 June 2020 Change
% % pct. pts.
Annual household income
Less than $40,000 21 28 +7
$40,000-$99,999 56 58 +2
$100,000 or more 76 81 +5
Age
18-29 years 38 39 +1
30-49 years 49 50 +1
50-64 years 55 58 +3
65+ years 56 65 +9
Gallup

There is a strong political slant to personal finance ratings -- 70% of Republicans, 49% of independents and 47% of Democrats rate their personal finances positively. Republicans (66%) and independents (42%) were less positive in April than they are now, while Democrats' assessments (46%) were similar.

Americans More Optimistic About the Direction of Their Finances

Forty-one percent of Americans say their personal financial situation is getting better, while 37% say it is getting worse. In early April, when states were still pondering when and how to reopen their economies, Americans were far more pessimistic, with half believing their situation was getting worse, compared with 35% saying it was getting better.

Even with the recent improvement, Americans' outlook remains well below where it was last year, when the majority thought their situation was improving.

Line graph. 53% of Americans, up from 49% in April, rate their personal finances as excellent or good. Last year, 56% rated their finances positively.

Lower-income Americans have shown the greatest improvement in their financial outlook, with an 11-point increase in the percentage of the group saying their financial situation is getting better. Now, 38% of those whose annual household income is less than $40,000 see their situation improving, compared with 43% of those in middle-income households and 45% of those in upper-income households.

Younger Americans' personal financial outlook, which cratered in April, has held steady at that lower level. The percentage of young adults who said their financial situation is getting better dropped from 79% in April 2019 to 46% in April 2020, and is currently 48%.

Still, young adults remain slightly more optimistic about the trajectory of their finances than older adults. All older age groups show increases of seven points in the belief their finances are improving.

Changes in Perceptions That Financial Situation Is Improving, April vs. June
Figures are the percentage who say their financial situation is getting better
April 2020 June 2020 Change
% % pct. pts.
Annual household income
Less than $40,000 27 38 +11
$40,000-$99,999 40 43 +3
$100,000 or more 39 45 +6
Age
18-29 years 46 48 +2
30-49 years 37 44 +7
50-64 years 31 38 +7
65+ years 27 34 +7
Gallup

Similar to ratings of their current financial situation, Republicans and independents are more optimistic about the direction of their finances now than they were in April, while Democrats' opinions are unchanged. The 61% of Republicans who say their finances are getting better is up from 47% in May, while there has been an eight-point increase among independents (to 40% from 32%). Twenty-seven percent of Democrats now say their financial situation is improving, compared with 28% who said the same in April.

Implications

The coronavirus has caused widespread damage to the U.S. economy, with the unemployment rate reaching levels not seen since the Great Depression, and economic growth -- as measured by the gross domestic product -- expected to drop by as much as half in the second quarter.

But Americans may feel the worst is over. Their ratings of their personal finances are still generally positive -- and better than they were in April, when millions of Americans were not working, Americans had not received their stimulus checks, and states were still deciding how to reopen businesses. During the last recession, Americans' ratings of their finances stayed low for several years before recovering.

The immediate and long-term future of the economy remains uncertain, particularly if new coronavirus infections increase -- or even spike -- rather than decline. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell expects a significant contraction in economic growth, and high unemployment to persist for the remainder of the year. The House of Representatives has already passed a large stimulus package, while the Senate and the Trump administration are deciding whether additional legislation is necessary.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.


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