A key measure of Americans’ financial security improved during the year past, according to a new report.
Bankrate.com’s Financial Security Index registered 100.4 in September, up from the level recorded one year ago. The Financial Security Index has been over 100 (the level that illustrates improvement over the past year) in seven of the first nine months of 2014. The index was above 100 in six of the first nine months of 2013, just two of nine months to start 2012 and none of the first nine months of 2011.
Reflecting the improved financial outlook, the report reveals that more than half of Americans (53 percent) think home prices will rise in the next 12 months. Just eight percent expect home prices to decline. The results were consistent across gender, age, income and education levels.
“Housing, like the stock market, is something consumers look to as an indicator for whether things are headed in the right direction,” says Bankrate.com Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride. “When home prices fall, everyone gets a little queasy — homeowners and renters alike. The expectation of continued home price increases underscores an expectation for continued improvement in the job market, household finances and the overall economy.”
Last year at this time, 55 percent of Americans correctly forecast that home prices would rise over the ensuing 12 months and nine percent wrongly predicted a decline.
Among the report’s additional findings:
- In September, men’s sense of financial security improved compared to last month, whereas financial security declined among women.
- Just over a quarter (26 percent) of Americans feel more secure in their jobs and just 14 percent feeling less secure than one year ago.
- One quarter of Americans (27 percent) reported higher net worth (compared to 20 percent reporting lower net worth) relative to one year ago. The report attributes the results to “record highs in the stock market” and “continued increases in home prices.”
Conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI), the survey is based on telephone interviews 1,003 U.S. adults. Additional survey results may be viewed here.