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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This Principal Financial Well-Being Index SM survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Principal Financial Group® between October 30 and November 7, 2012 among 1,103 employees. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

This is one in a series of annual studies to identify and track changes in the workplace of small and mid-sized (growing) businesses. The first Principal Financial Well-Being Index SM survey was conducted in the United States in 2000.

About the Principal Financial Group

The Principal Financial Group ® (The Principal ®) 1 is a global investment management leader offering retirement services, insurance solutions and asset management. The Principal offers businesses, individuals and institutional clients a wide range of financial products and services through its diverse family of companies. Founded in 1879 and a member of the FORTUNE 500 ®, the Principal Financial Group has $392.2 billion in assets under management 2 and serves some 18.3 million customers worldwide from offices in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the United States. Principal Financial Group, Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PFG. For more information, visit

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries, including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant and consumer package goods. Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through its North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help clients stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, visit

1 “The Principal Financial Group” and “The Principal” are registered service marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a member of the Principal Financial Group.

2 As of September 30, 2012.

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