Marin Community Foundation
Financial Worries

More Americans Are Worried About Their Finances

Originally published by Suzanne Woolley, Bloomberg [link] on November 29, 2017

Many more U.S. workers now report being dissatisfied with their financial situation than they did just two years ago, according to a new survey by global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson. Only 35 percent of employees said they were satisfied with their finances in 2017, a significant slide from the 48 percent who said the same in the 2015 version of the biennial survey. Against a backdrop of stock market gains, low unemployment, and generally high consumer confidence, the big drop came as a surprise, said Willis Towers Watson senior economist Steve Nyce. After digging deeper into the survey of  5,000 workers at large employers, Nyce concluded that a long trend of low wage increases and rising consumer debt, paired with lackluster savings, has workers feeling “more out on the edge than they did in 2015.”

Among those making more than $100,000, 13 percent said they are struggling financially, compared with 41 percent for those making less than $50,000. Fears of losing health-care coverage may come into play today, Nyce said, but the larger issue he sees is the frustration of middle-class Americans about their inability to get ahead financially.

Other notable results from the survey: 

  • Fifty-one percent of employees reported suffering a "significant financial event" in the past two years. Thirty percent of those who experienced such a financial shock said they had a significant medical expense.
  • In 2017, 34 percent of workers said their current financial worries negatively affects their lives, compared with just 21 percent in 2015.
  • Ten percent of workers in the latest survey reported having taken a loan from their 401(k), and 6 percent have made a permanent hardship withdrawal.