Money Troubles: Who's Hurting the Most in Today's Economy

Low income - who is hurtingThe sluggish economy has made finances tighter across the nation, but, no surprise, the pain isn't being shared equally.

A recent survey from Bankrate looked at a broad cross-section of Americans to find out how they're feeling about their money and which groups are struggling the hardest.

America's Money Troubles: Who's Hurting the Most in Today's Economy
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Money Troubles: Who's Hurting the Most in Today's Economy

Though the threat of mass layoffs has receded since the depths of the recession, but that doesn't mean people aren't still losing their jobs, so having an emergency fund is crucial. Unfortunately, just 55 percent of people have more in savings than they carry in credit card debt.

Those with lower incomes are in the worst shape in this regard: Just two in five have more savings than credit card debt. Parents of young children also tend to carry more debt than those without children depending on them.

Economic recovery and a rising stock market notwithstanding, 23 percent of workers are actually feeling less secure about holding onto their positions than they did a a year ago, compared to just 18 percent who feel more secure.

In regions of the country enjoying the best economic conditions, feelings of job security were somewhat higher, with 21 percent of Southerners saying they felt more secure. But in the Midwest, just 12 percent reported more job security. Breaking down workers by gender, men were nearly twice as likely to report increased job security than women.

Americans aren't as concerned about their debt as they are about their savings. Of those surveyed, 37 percent were less comfortable now than they were a year ago with their savings, while only 14 percent feel more comfortable. Responses to a similar question about debt comfort were much more evenly split, with the "less comfortable" beating out the "more comfortable" by only 24 percent to 20 percent.

Interestingly, though we hear a great deal about the student loan debt crisis, college grads are more likely to feel OK about their savings and their debt than those with less education. People in the Northeast reported less comfort about debt than in other regions, while just 6 percent of those in rural areas said they felt more comfortable with their savings.

In addition to savings and debt, the survey discussed overall net worth. By 25 percent to 19 percent, more people reported rising net worth than falling. Men were more likely than women to see increases, while people in suburban areas were half again as likely to have seen their net worth decrease as those who live within cities.

Adding all these results up, Bankrate's Financial Security Index came in at 96.8, down 1.8 points from the previous month and reversing some tentative gains from late 2012.

With so many people waiting for economic conditions to improve, the Bankrate survey doesn't deliver the positive message most of us are hope for. But until that upbeat news arrives, maintaining tight control of your finances is your best way to keep your own prospects as favorable as possible.


You can follow Motley Fool contributor Dan Caplinger on Twitter @DanCaplinger or on Google+.

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