[For the official release plus survey data, click here]
When it comes to economics, Wall Street predictions don’t seem to be dictating Main Street sentiments. According to our latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index® survey, consumers may beg to differ – in some cases, a lot – on issues like job security, spending, income and debt.
Here’s what economists are predicting vs. how Americans are feeling:
Unemployment and Job Security
The job market is improving, just not as fast as most would like. According to data, the unemployment rate will decrease from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent by the end of 2014.* However, Americans’ sentiments differ from those on Wall Street—two-thirds (68 percent) say they expect their personal job security to be about the same or worse this year. Just 18 percent expect it to be better.
Spending levels tend to be correlated to job growth, so if the economy continues to add jobs, then we may see a moderate level of spending growth. Economists think consumers will loosen their purse strings as they predict a 2.4 percent increase in consumer spending.** In stark contrast, three in four (76 percent) Main Street-ers say they expect their spending to stay the same or decrease. Of those who expect it to decrease, 58 percent say it will go down by at least 3 percent.
Wall Street pundits expect personal incomes to rise by more than 3 percent in 2014.*** While 30 percent of Main Street-ers expect their incomes to increase, another 62 percent say their personal income will stay the same or decrease this year.
Where Sentiments Merge
After record post-recession increases in 2013, economists on Wall Street expect a leveling off of household debt this year. Consumer debt is expected to continue to increase, but there is also an anticipated increase in those paying down debt.****
Americans are also expecting debt to level off – 46 percent say the amount of personal debt they have will stay the same, although just 11 percent expect it to increase.
How to Keep Up With Wall Street
Regardless of Wall Street’s predictions, it’s up to Americans to take control of their finances and create their own plan for a secure financial future. The best way to beat Wall Street’s odds, or meet them in this case, is to concentrate on what you can control and look at the new year as a time to evaluate and make any necessary changes to your financial plan. By curbing spending and decreasing personal debt, Americans will be well-positioned to achieve financial security in the year ahead. Read how to make 2014 a more financially secure year.