September 4, 2013

5 Years Later: A Recession Recap

[For the official release, check out the complete survey and results]

It might be a five year anniversary, but don’t start celebrating just yet.

The peak of the Great Recession happened right around this time five years ago. Although most experts believe we’re in an economic upswing, the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index®  shows Americans aren’t as optimistic:

  • The overall COUNTRY Index, which has measured pre-, during, and post-recession financial sentiment, stood at 69.9 in August 2008. And, while we have come a long way from the lowest reading (62.4) in August 2011, that number still has yet to regain much of its lost ground. The latest reading was 65.9 in June 2013.
  • Fifty-four percent feel less financially secure now than they did five years ago and another 19 percent feel the same. Just 27 percent feel more financially secure.
  • Nearly half (49 percent) say the economy is worse than it was five years ago and another 19 percent say it’s about the same. Twenty-nine percent say it’s better.

Take a deeper look at the number trends over the past five years and the affect on each generation:


An age trend

Nearly one quarter (22 percent) of Americans cited their retirement nest egg as their biggest worry, so it makes sense older generations have the least confidence in the economy; this group has suffered the most over the years as employers cut back on expenses (such as 401(k) matches). As shown above, those aged 65 and older are the most likely to say the economy is worse now than five years ago and the most likely to say their financial security will be even worse in the next five years.

In contrast, younger generations are more optimistic. More than half of those 18 to 29 feel their financial security will be better in the next five years, the highest of any age group. They’re also the least likely to expect a recession in the next five years.

What’s next?

Just like after a bad breakup, Americans are leery of trusting the economy again and getting their hearts broken. Only 38 percent say their financial security will be better in five years than it is today; 28 percent say it’ll be worse.

It’s impossible to predict the future of the economy with 100 percent certainty. So plan, plan, plan. If you start early on a retirement fund and emergency savings, you’ll undoubtedly be in a better place no matter what the next five, ten or fifteen years bring.

What do you think about the current state of the economy, and what does the future hold?