Fed Survey Finds Increasing Economic Well-Being

Nearly seven in 10 U.S. households surveyed last fall said they are “doing okay” or “living comfortably,” according to the Federal Reserve’s 2015 Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households released yesterday. This figure is up four points from 2014 and six points from 2013. Twenty-two percent said they were “just getting by,” and 9 percent said it was difficult to get by financially. Twenty-seven percent said they were better off than the year before, nearly 19 percent said they were worse off, and a little over half said they were doing about the same.

The survey also found that 39 percent had applied for credit in the prior 12 months — up from 37 percent the year before — and 26 percent of those households were turned down or given less credit than they applied for, down from 32 percent in 2014. Another 18 percent said they put off applying for credit because they thought they would be turned down.

The survey also explored savings practices. Two-thirds of respondents said they could cover three months of expenses from savings alone or from a combination of savings, assets and credit if they lost their main source of income. Fifteen percent said their spending in the previous year exceeded their income, down a bit from 2014. The survey found that 31 percent of non-retired respondents reported having no retirement savings or pension, including 27 percent of those over 60.