Principal Financial released its fourth quarter Financial Well-Being Index on Wednesday, which tracks changes among small and mid-sized businesses. The Index included responses from two broad groups: employees who work at U.S. businesses with between 10 and 1,000 workers; and retirees over 60, including those who may be employed part-time or self-employed in a second career.
While fewer people reported feeling "very concerned" about their long-term financial futures this quarter, that percentage is relatively unchanged from fourth quarter 2009. Fifty-six percent of retirees and 72% of employees said they were very concerned. Furthermore, 26% of employees said they hadn't yet planned for retirement.
The holidays may have little effect on spending, according to the Index. Forty-one percent of employees and 39% of retirees said they will spend less per gift this year; 38% of employees and 31% of retirees say they will buy gifts for fewer people. Sixty percent of employees and 62% of retirees will spend less than $500. Charities will suffer as well, as 18% of employees say they will give less.
Still, the holiday season will be better in 2010 than it was in 2009. The percentage of people in both groups who say they will spend the same amount on the holidays as last year is up from the fourth quarter 2009 index. Just 31% of employees say they will spend less than last year, compared with 46% in 2009. Among retirees, 39% will spend less this year, compared with 46% in 2009.