June 25, 2013

Servicemembers, Civilians Less Worried About Economy

Almost half still list economic health as a major concern

Civilians and servicemembers alike are growing less concerned with the state of the economy, according to the First Command Financial Behaviors Index. The index is a monthly survey of about 530 U.S. consumers between ages 25 and 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000.

Forty-nine percent of military respondents and 48% of civilian respondents listed the economy as one of their major concerns. First Command noted these are record lows for both groups.

“These results represent the lowest level of economic concern we have seen since launching the Index in early 2008 at the beginning of the global economic downturn,” Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, said in a statement. “So far this year we have seen an 11-point drop among servicemembers and their families and a 13-point drop for the general population.”

Spiker noted that though concern is trending down, a significant minority are still worried. “While these results do indicate that concerns continue for roughly half of consumers, the downward trend line is a promising development that reveals an improving economic outlook in the American middle class.”

One-quarter of the general population respondents and 30% of military respondents said real estate was a concern. Less than a quarter of each group said the stock market and unemployment were concerning. Military respondents were particularly unconcerned with unemployment, with just 20% saying they were worried, compared with 24% of the general population.

As fears ease over the economy, confidence over their own financial futures increased. Over a third of the general population respondents and 46% of military respondents said they were extremely or very confident that their situation will improve over the next year. Looking all the way ahead to retirement, 34% of the general population and 40% of military respondents are confident they’ll be able to retire comfortably.

Spiker noted that sequestration is still a major concern for military families. “At the same time we see an improving economic outlook, though, many survey respondents are worried about sequestration,” he said. “Federal budget cuts are a particularly important issue in the military population. Half of families report feeling anxious about sequestration, and they have responded by cutting back on everyday spending. With the lessons of the economic downturn still fresh, our men and women in uniform are preparing for more fiscal uncertainty and getting their family finances squared away. ”

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