Fed Survey Finds Increasing Financial Well-Being as Economy Grows

Seven in 10 U.S. households surveyed last fall said they are “doing okay” or “living comfortably,” according to the Federal Reserve’s 2016 Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households released today. This figure is up one point from 2015 and eight points from 2013. Twenty-seven percent said they were better off than the year before; 17 percent said they were worse off, and about 55 percent said they were doing about the same.

The survey also found that 40 percent had applied for credit in the prior 12 months — edging up from the year before — and 39 percent of those households were turned down or given less credit than they applied for, down four points from 2015. Another 17 percent said they put off applying for credit because they thought they would be turned down.

The survey also saw improvements in savings practices. Seven in 10 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, up slightly from the year before. Sixteen percent said their spending in the previous year exceeded their income, about the same as in 2015. The survey found that 28 percent of non-retired respondents reported having no retirement savings or pension, including 19 percent of those over 60 — marking progress from previous years.