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Millennials feeling financial unease with the new year

Survey reveals generational divide in personal financial security confidence after 2016 elections.

Jan. 5, 2017

In a national survey taken just days after the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections, a gap exists between Millennials and older generations with regards to how each group views their overall personal financial security, as well as the state of the U.S. economy in the coming year. 

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index® score year-over-year remained largely flat from December 2015, rising by just 0.2 points from 66.6 to 66.8. However, the score among Millennials was the lowest among all the age groups polled, at just 60.9, compared to 66.6 for Gen X respondents (ages 35-49) and 69.2 for Baby Boomers (ages 50-64). The Silent Generation (ages 65+) registered the highest Index score at 71.2. Excluding Millennials, all other age groups were significantly more optimistic about their finances with their average Index score registering an uptick from 68.0 a year ago to 68.7 at the close of the year.

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index examines Americans’ current sentiments of their overall level of personal financial security on a scale of 0-100 with 100 indicating the highest level of security and compares that to previous years.

It also measures Americans’ confidence level in a variety of individual personal finance topics such as their ability to pay back debts, set aside money for savings or investments, and retire comfortably, among others. 

“As we transition from the recent election results and head into a new year, we are seeing a mix in confidence among people of all ages as they try to better understand the overall economic outlook and their own personal financial future,” said Troy Frerichs, director of wealth management at COUNTRY Financial. “That is why it’s important to create specific plans tailored to your life stage to help ease any anxiety, for Millennials and all other generations, and secure one’s financial objectives early and achievably.”

Millennials uneasy about their overall financial security 

When polled about their view on the U.S. economic outlook for 2017 after the outcome of the recent presidential elections, 41 percent of Millennials felt that they would be ‘worse off’ than 2016, with close to a third (30 percent) predicting the economy would be ‘a lot worse off.’ In stark contrast, all other generations felt more optimistic with each generation feeling ‘better off’ than they do ‘worse off:’

  • Millennials reported feeling 24 percent ‘better off’ vs. 41 percent ‘worse off’ 
  • Gen X reported feeling 34 percent ‘better off’ vs. 31 percent ‘worse off’
  • Baby Boomers feeling 33 percent ‘better off’ vs. 27 percent ‘worse off’
  • Silent Generation feeling 45 percent ‘better off’ vs. 17 percent ‘worse off’

This uneasy sentiment among Millennials is further echoed across a range of questions about their personal finances: 

  • Overall financial security: 59 percent of Millennial respondents rated their overall level of financial security ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ compared to 37 percent reporting ‘excellent’ or ‘good.’
  • Savings or investments: Nearly half of Millennial respondents (48 percent) reported not being able to set aside any money for savings or investments, while 42 percent of Millennials reported that they have set money aside.  
  • Ability to pay debts: 29 percent of Millennial respondents were not confident or unsure they would be able to pay their debts as they came due, compared with 38 percent of Millennials who were ‘very confident’ and 32 percent who were ‘somewhat confident’ that they could.

Millennials became more optimistic when looking at their finances over a longer term. Half of all Millennials respondents (50 percent) felt that it was likely they would have enough money to retire comfortably when the time came, versus 32 percent who thought it was unlikely. 

About The COUNTRY Financial Security Index®

Since 2007, the COUNTRY Financial Security Index has measured Americans' sentiments of their personal financial security. The Index also delves deeper into individual personal finance topics to better inform Americans about the issues impacting their finances. 

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index was created by COUNTRY Financial. This survey was conducted by EMC Research, Inc., an independent research firm, commissioned by COUNTRY Financial. Surveys were conducted using a national online research panel designed to be representative of the general population and includes responses from 1,000 U.S. adults over the age of 18 for national surveys with additional interviews completed in Georgia, Illinois, and Oregon to bring the total in each of those states to 500 completed surveys.