More American Workers Anticipate Improving Economy In 2013

While nearly two-thirds of American workers (63 percent) view the current economy as unhealthy, the percentage of employees who believe the economy will improve in 2013 has risen, according to new research from the Principal Financial Well-Being IndexSM: American Workers. Forty-three percent of workers anticipate economic improvements next year, up from just 32 percent last quarter.

Despite their confidence in the state of the economy in 2013, more employees (42 percent, up from 32 percent last quarter) are stressed about the economy. But significantly fewer workers (36 percent) are stressed about their personal finances, down from 42 percent last quarter.

The Principal Financial Well-Being Index: American Workers surveys American workers at small and mid-sized businesses with 10 to 1,000 workers, and is part of a series on the financial well-being of Americans released quarterly by the Principal Financial Group ® . The survey is conducted online by Harris Interactive ®.

“Over the past two quarters of our survey, both business owners and employees have voiced worries about the health of the economy,” said Luke Vandermillen, vice president of retirement and investor services at The Principal ®. “While it’s easy to feel paralyzed by this environment of uncertainty, Americans can alleviate some of their stress by setting concrete financial goals and putting a strategy in place to achieve them.”

Holiday belt-tightening

With the holiday season underway, many workers are adjusting their plans to accommodate tighter budgets. Just over a third of workers will be spending less per gift this holiday season due to the economy, and another third will be paring down the number of people on their gift lists. Workers are also scaling back on holiday travel plans—about a quarter will be traveling less this holiday season due to the economy.

Sixty-two percent of workers say their spending this holiday season will be consistent with the amount spent last year, while 30 percent say they will be spending less. Only 9 percent say they expect to spend more at the holidays this year.

American workers are wary of racking up more debt. When it comes to making their purchases, slightly more than a third of workers plan to pay for their holiday gifts via credit card, while more than half plan to pay with either a debit card or cash.

Blunders to resolutions

The worst financial blunders of 2012

  • Not saving enough (21 percent)
  • Accumulating credit card debt (13 percent)
  • Not budgeting properly (10 percent)

Top financial resolutions for the New Year

  • Saving a set amount per month (29 percent)
  • Paying off credit card debt (27 percent)
  • Cutting monthly spending (21 percent)

“As we reflect back on the year, it’s important to evaluate what we did well and where we have room for improvement from a financial standpoint,” said Vandermillen. “For the past two years, Americans have listed not saving enough as their top financial blunder, but this is the first year since 2008 that a pragmatic approach to savings—saving a set amount every month—tops the list of financial resolutions. We’re encouraged that many Americans are resolved to be diligent about saving more in 2013.”

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