Five years after the end of the Great Recession, many Americans are experiencing financial strains. And these pressures are showing up in surveys.
Back in January, the Hartford Funds reported that Americans’ financial anxiety is causing them to miss investment opportunities, forgo higher returns in favor of low risk/low yields vehicles and not follow through on necessary financial planning. And on April 24, Financial Finesse unveiled a study pointing to a rise in financial stress due to “internal factors” — those within the survey respondents’ control.
Now there’s word that improvement in the level of Americans’ financial anxiety has stalled following improvements in 2013.
So reports the first quarter 2014 release of the Money Anxiety Index, which measures various economic indicators and factors associated with consumers’ level of financial worry and stress. Updated on the second Monday of each calendar month, the index consists of monthly measurement for more than 50 years, and spans from January 1959 to date.
At the close of the first quarter, the index remained mostly flat at 78.7. Historically, the Money Anxiety Index has fluctuated from a high of 135.3 during the recession of the early 1980s, to a low of 38.7 in the mid-1960s. The 50-year average is 70.7 (July 1980 = 100).
The index’s conclusion: Consumers are “starting to feel the effects of a prolonged financial struggle.”
During 2013, the Money Anxiety Index dipped 14.8 points, reflecting an improvement in the level of consumer financial anxiety. However, in the first three months of 2014, the index remained flat at 78.7 indicating that consumers are concerned about prospects for a continuing economic recovery.
“The financial fatigue consumers are exhibiting is mostly related to the prolonged economic recovery, which will enter its sixth year in a couple of months,” the report states. “The Great Recession officially ended in June of 2009, initiating the longest economic recovery since the Great Depression.
“Moreover, the current economic recovery produced the lowest and longest Fed funds rate of 0-0.25 percent, starting in December of 2008 – over six years ago,” the report adds. “The low and prolonged period of virtually zero Fed funds rate is contributing to consumers’ financial fatigue because they are seeing their $10 trillion in bank deposits gradually eroding by inflation.”