U.S. Households Burdened By Debt Find It Hard To Save

U.S. Households Burdened By Debt Find It Hard To Save

As saving for retirement can be challenging, especially while on a tight budget, a study published in July 2019 by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (CRR), attempted to answer the question of why so many U.S. workers report that they have little money set aside to absorb financial shocks.

The issue brief, “Why Are So Many Households Unable to Cover a $400 Unexpected Expense?” was written by Anqi Chen, assistant director of savings research at the CRR. Citing data from two recent Federal Reserve surveys, Chen observed that despite the strength of the economic recovery in recent years, 41% of households surveyed in 2017 said they would find it difficult to cover an unexpected expense of just $400. In her study, Chen used these data to analyze the question of why so many households say they are unable to manage a relatively small unexpected expense.

The study cited survey results showing that, as expected, lower-income households were most likely to say they would be unable to pay for an emergency expense of $400, with 72% of respondents earning less than $25,000 a year reporting that they would have trouble covering such an expense. However, the findings also indicated that 34% of households with annual earnings of between $75,000 and $99,999 and 17% of households with annual earnings of $100,000 or more admitted that they would find it hard to pay for a $400 unexpected expense.

Chen pointed out that other survey data show that just 21% of households reported having less than $400 in their checking or savings accounts. She added, however, that another 17% of the households included in this survey said they would have trouble paying for an unexpected $400 expense once they paid their outstanding credit card debt, despite having at least $400 in their bank accounts.

The study looked at several possible explanations for why so many households—and especially middle- and high-income households—appear to be unable to cover a relatively small unexpected expense, including financial literacy, education, and other socioeconomic characteristics. Based on an analysis that included measures for both financial literacy and educational attainment, Chen found that financial literacy scores had little ability to predict whether a household would have trouble covering a $400 unexpected expense, while educational attainment had strong predictive power.

Moreover, the results of a latent class analysis that examined the characteristics of these vulnerable households showed that a subgroup were less advantaged; i.e., they either recently lost their job, had a low income, or had a high school degree or less. However, a second subgroup of households were identified who had relatively high incomes, net worth, and rates of participation in retirement plans, but who also had relatively high mortgage payments, credit card debt, or other loan payments.

“Many of these households may have enough liquid assets to cover a modest emergency expense but they also have mortgages, student loans, and/or other installment loans,” Chen observed. “These loan payments, which constrain their household budgets, could explain why so many middle- and higher-income households do not have precautionary savings.”

Millenial Managers Are Already Having an Impact on Workplace Planning

Millenial Managers Are Already Having an Impact on Workplace Planning

As members of the millennial generation enter the managerial ranks, they are bringing new approaches to hiring and workforce planning, according to a report recently published by freelancing website Upwork.

The third annual “Future Workforce Report,” released on March 5, explores the hiring behaviors of more than 1,000 U.S. hiring managers surveyed in October 2018. The focus of this year’s report is on generational impacts on the workforce, and specifically on how millennials, as well as some older members of Generation Z, are shaping the future of work.

The study found that 48% of the younger generation managers surveyed have already reached the director level or higher, and are thus having a major influence on workforce planning. Researchers noted that this influence will continue to grow, as these younger generations will make up 58% of the workforce by 2028, up from 38% today.

The findings also indicated, however, that the “always-on” workplace is taking a toll on younger managers, as 84% of millennial managers have reported experiencing job burnout. The study further suggested that conventional methods of hiring are no longer providing much relief, as 42% of younger generation hiring managers said they believe hiring has become more difficult in the past year, while just 18% said they think it has become easier.

In addition, the results indicated that supporting remote teams is the new norm, with 69% of the younger generation managers reporting that they have team members who are allowed to work remotely. Of the managers who said they have approved remote work options, 74% reported having team members who spend a significant portion of their time conducting their jobs remotely. By contrast, just 58% of baby boomer respondents said they have workers who work a significant portion of their time remotely.

The study also found that younger generation managers are 28% more likely to utilize remote workers than baby boomers, and anticipate that two out of five full-time employees will work remotely within the next three years. The study projects that by 2028, 73% of all teams will have remote workers. The results were approximated for future projections based on the current results for the respondents of the youngest cohort, Generation Z.

The report further emphasized that younger generation managers are particularly likely to recognize the need for better access to rapidly-changing skills and constant reskilling. However, younger generation managers were found to have a greater tendency than older managers to express support for a more independent workforce approach, as the survey indicated that younger generation managers were nearly three times more likely to say that individuals should be responsible for their own reskilling than baby boomer managers.

The study predicted that by 2028, non-traditional, flexible talent, like freelancers and temporary and agency workers, will account for 24% more of departmental headcount than they do today.

According to the report, the younger generation managers were more than twice as likely as the baby boomer managers to have increased their usage of freelancers in the past few years, and they are projected to continue increasing their usage in 2019.

The younger generation managers were also found to be more than twice as likely as the baby boomer managers to report having engaged freelancers for ongoing, strategic partnerships across multiple projects, rather than for one-time, one-off projects. The primary reasons respondents cited for using more freelancers are to increase productivity, access specialized skills, and drive cost efficiencies.

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 62, Issue 4

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2019 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Optimism About the Economy Shows Signs of Declining

Optimism About the Economy Shows Signs of Declining

The level of optimism about the outlook for the U.S. economy declined among business executives in the fourth quarter of 2018, but most of these leaders continue to hold a strongly positive view of their own company’s prospects, the results of a quarterly survey of executives and senior financial managers at U.S. companies conducted by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) indicated.

The survey, which was conducted November 7-28, 2018, included 938 responses from certified public accountants who hold a leadership position in their company, such as CEO, CFO, or controller. While 57% of survey respondents expressed optimism about the U.S. economy over the next 12 months, researchers noted that this share was down 12 percentage points from last quarter, and represents a steep decline from the post-recession high of 79% set at the start of 2018.

When the respondents who said they have a negative view of the U.S. economy were asked about their reasons for pessimism, they cited concerns about trade issues, rising interest rates, the U.S. deficit, and underlying issues such as corporate and personal debt levels. Meanwhile, the respondents who expressed optimism tended to cite the continued strength of a broad range of economic indicators.

However, when asked about the outlook for their own company, the share of respondents who reported having an optimistic outlook held relatively steady at 69%, down just a single percentage point from the third quarter. Similarly, the percentage of survey respondents who said they expect their company to expand in the next 12 months fell only slightly, from 70% to 67%. Researchers pointed out that from a historical perspective, this rate remains high.

The results of the fourth quarter survey also indicated that the availability of skilled personnel is the top challenge respondents face, followed by employee and benefit costs. Almost half of respondents (48%) said they plan salary, wage, or commission increases in the next 12 months to improve their company’s chances of recruiting and retaining employees in the tight labor market, while 18% said they intend to improve their company’s benefits. A majority (62%) of respondents who said they plan to increase compensation indicated that they expect the increases to be in the 3% to 5% range.

In addition, the survey showed that hiring plans continue to be strong, although many of the executives reported facing a scarcity of candidates with the right skills and experience. Around half of respondents said their company currently has the right number of employees. Of the 42% of respondents who indicated that their company has too few employees, 14% reported they are reluctant to hire, while 28% said they intend to start hiring immediately.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general use, and while we believe all information to be reliable and accurate, it is important to remember individual situations may be entirely different. The information provided is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any Federal tax penalties. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel. This newsletter is written and published by Liberty Publishing, Inc., Beverly, MA. Copyright © 2019 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.