BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Sept. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In the late summer and fall of 2008, Americans were just beginning to feel the height of the Great Recession. This period was marked by high profile events including the Fannie May/Freddie Mac takeovers (9/7/08), the collapse of Lehman Brothers (9/15/08), the signing of the first bank bailout (10/1/08), an unemployment rate at a 14-year high (11/7/08) and more. Now five years later, it seems Americans may not believe we are in a recovery, according to the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index® survey.
Now and Then
Despite a recovery that economists say began mid-2009, Americans do not feel their personal financial security or the economy overall are any better compared to five years ago.
- The overall COUNTRY Index, which has measured pre-, during, and post-recession financial sentiment, stood at 69.9 in August 2008. And, while we have come a long way from the lowest reading (62.4) in August 2011, that number still has yet to regain much of its lost ground. The latest reading was 65.9 in June 2013.
- Fifty-four percent feel less financially secure now than they did five years ago and another 19 percent feel the same. Just 27 percent feel more financially secure.
- Nearly half (49 percent) say the economy is worse than it was five years ago and another 19 percent say it's about the same. Twenty-nine percent say it's better.
For an infographic of Americans' sentiments on the recession and recovery by the numbers and a graph mapping the movement of the COUNTRY Financial Security Index over the past five years against national unemployment and debt, visit www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com.
The Recession's Lasting Impact
When asked about the lasting effects from the Great Recession, despite the housing market crash, a hit to savings is the biggest scar for Americans. Topping the list of lasting effects that still keep Americans up at night are a reduced retirement nest egg (22 percent) and depleted emergency savings (21 percent). By comparison, just 8 percent say reduced home value.
Americans are also experiencing a long-tail recovery. More than two-thirds (68 percent) say the overall state of the economy has caused them to cut back spending to make ends meet, virtually unchanged from November 2008 (67 percent). Another 41 percent say their financial situation is still recovering from the impact of the recession; nearly 1 in 5 (19 percent) say they will never recover.
"Although we are five years out from the height of a devastating financial crisis, the after-effects of the Great Recession are still top-of-mind for Americans. As a result, Americans, personally, may not be on the same page with reports about the state of the recovery," says Troy Frerichs, director of investments-wealth management at COUNTRY Financial. "While we've come a long way, this recovery is by no means complete and we still have ground to make up. The important thing is not to look back, but to adjust to a new reality and redefine what financial security looks like in a perhaps permanently changed financial and economic landscape."
What Lies Ahead
It's clear the recession has left Americans leery of what's in store for the next five years.
- Americans are split about the fate of their personal financial situation. Thirty-eight percent say their financial security will be better in five years than it is today and another 21 percent say it will be about the same; 28 percent say it will be worse.
- Forty-six percent expect we will experience another recession in the next five years and another 32 percent are on the fence; less than one quarter (22 percent) do not expect another recession in the next five years.
- Thirty-six percent say improvements in the job market will make them feel more financially secure; 25 percent say a decreased national debt will.
"It's not surprising Americans have a cautious outlook on the next five years, given the ongoing impact of the recession," adds Frerichs. "The best way to approach financial uncertainty is to be prepared for anything. Speaking with a knowledgeable professional can help you get a financial plan in place and make sure you're set up for financial security no matter what outside economic factors are at play."
How Has the Recession Affected Your Generation?
18 to 29 Year Olds: Coming of Age in the New Economy
With many Gen Y Americans just entering adulthood, the job market and financial independence five years ago, this age group has been less affected by the recession and are more hopeful about the future than other generations.
- Thirty-six percent feel more financially secure than they did five years ago, the highest of all age groups surveyed.
- More than half (54 percent) feel their financial security will be better in the next five years, also the highest of any age group.
- Gen Y is least likely to expect another recession in the next five years (30 percent).
30 to 39 Year Olds: Hurt, But Hopeful
Thirty to 39 year olds were not unscathed by the recession, but they are looking ahead with optimism.
- Forty-six percent say their financial situation is still recovering from the impact of the recession.
- Thirty-six percent say the economy is better today than it was five years ago, the highest of any age group surveyed.
- More than half (52 percent) feel their financial security will be better in the next five years than it is today.
40 to 64 Year Olds: Generation X-pecting the Worst and "Boom"-ing with Pessimism
Those ages 40 to 64 seem to be having the hardest time recovering from the recession and are the least optimistic looking ahead.
- Those ages 40 to 49 and ages 50 to 64 are the most likely to say they feel less financially secure now than they did five years ago (68 and 65 percent, respectively).
- More than a quarter of both 40 to 49 year olds (29 percent) and 50 to 64 year olds (26 percent) say their financial situations will never recover from the impact of the recession.
- These age groups are also the most likely to say we will experience another recession in the next five years (58 percent of both 40 to 49 year olds and 50 to 64 year olds).
65+ Year Olds: Social Insecurity
Looking back at the last five years and ahead to the next five, retired Americans are feeling insecure in their financial situation.
- Not surprisingly, this age group cites reduced retirement nest egg (28 percent) as the top lasting effect from the recession that still keeps them up at night.
- More than one in four (28 percent) say their financial situation will never recover from the impact of the recession.
- Compared to other age groups, those ages 65 and older are the most likely to say the economy is worse now than five years ago (60 percent) and the most likely to say their financial security will be worse in the next five years (43 percent).
The COUNTRY Financial Security Index®
Since 2007, the COUNTRY Financial Security Index has measured Americans' sentiments of their personal financial security. The COUNTRY Index also delves deeper into individual personal finance topics to better inform Americans about the issues impacting their finances. Survey data, videos and analysis are available at www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com and on Twitter at @FinanceSecure.
The COUNTRY Index was created by COUNTRY Financial and is compiled by Rasmussen Reports, LLC, an independent research firm, based on a national telephone and online survey of at least 3,000 Americans.
The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 2 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.
COUNTRY Financial (www.countryfinancial.com) serves about one million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a full range of financial products and services from auto, home and life insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.
SOURCE COUNTRY Financial