Month after month of economic turbulence, fluctuating concerns over the pandemic, and a host of other variables have left companies wondering: what is the actual financial state most consumers are living in? A major CivicScience survey of U.S. adults points to optimism, but not recovery.
At the end of 2020, 28% of consumers reported they were worse off as a result of the pandemic, which, at that point, had been waging war in the U.S. for nearly 10 months. Seven months later, the percentage who reported being worse off dropped to 22% (June 2021), and people reporting they were better off post-crisis doubled within the same timeframe (15% in December 2020 to 29% in June 2021). Essentially, there are slightly fewer people doing worse, and significantly more people doing better.
The rebound is fairly picturesque, but surveying in June reveals 31% of people who make under $50K per year say they are still financially worse off, compared to other income groups of which roughly 15% report being worse off.
In addition, when looking at the core drivers, it’s clear that people under 30 are leading the positive arc, particularly with how they feel about their investments for the future. By July 1, 2021, 31% of 18- to 29-year-olds report feeling like they have enough invested.
Consumer attitudes towards their personal finances and the state of the economy have experienced nearly-imperceptible increases, which points more towards long-term effects of the pandemic rather than short-term effects. Alternatively, job prospects for the next six months are still high after they skyrocketed in May.
Looking at home buying reveals another insight. Most have heard of the booming real estate market, but a surprising and overwhelming majority of U.S. adults believe now is a bad time to purchase a new home. While that percentage dropped slightly in the last month or so, it’s still at a mega high.
Further data suggests a coming rise in people who aren’t comfortable with the debt they have, a number which has remained at about 20% of the population since the beginning of the year. And not only that, but people’s future expectations around debt have stayed more negative than positive since the pandemic.
While people under 30 have experienced the best rebound related to the pandemic so far, the U.S. population as a whole seems to be generally focused on preparing for the future.
Americans’ overall outlook on the economy and spending gives the appearance of optimism, but underlying concern about personal financial situations is still widespread.