By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager
Kent Allison, National Leader of PwC’s Employee Financial Wellness Practice, supplies several different explanations for the less than rosy picture of the American worker’s financial picture his company has put together through their PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey.
“We’ve been doing this for a number of years now and while the numbers always had inherent issues in them, they’ve been trending positive each year,” he said recently. “ This is the first year where we’ve seen a dip across all the generations.”
The survey looked at the views of 1,600 self-employed or full-time adults and found, among other things, that workers generally were saving less for retirement. Millennials specifically were feeling their student loans weighing heavily on their financial goals and overall, cross-generational worry about finances is affecting productivity at work.
“This being an election year, I think what plays out in the press also weighs down on people and they realize some of the issues they’re challenged with,” Allison says adding there were some new findings that emerged this year that hadn’t been seen before. For example, financial
matters were the top cause for stress across every generation, with Millennials feeling the pinch the most at fifty one percent.
Allison says the reasons for these trends include the current volatility in the marketplace, stagnant wages and even a political influence.
Lack Of Optimism
He also pointed out the current lack of optimism wasn’t without a few previous red flags that were front and center before the current research. In fact , past respondents had concerns around cash flow and the ability to cover an unexpected event financially. The percentages of those saving for their retirement also mirrored the overall feeling things were less secure for most workers.
Nearly half of all employees have saved less than $50,000 dollars for their retirement and the generational breakdowns highlight even more pronounced issues. Sixty three percent of Millennials fall into that category with 46% of those in Generation X and 37% of Baby Boomers.
Allison also noted the echoes left over from the last recession further increased stress levels in those unsure they could withstand another financial shock of that magnitude. He even said PwC was starting to see an uptick in the financial support for parents and in-laws representing another drain on the finances of those already on unsure ground.
“I would expect that number will increase as people live longer and health care costs rise.”
No discussion of the strain being put on people’s finances today would be complete without looking at the question of student debt. Forty two percent of the respondents that were Millennial employees have student loans and a staggering 79% of that number say the size of these loans were impacting their ability to reach their financial goals.
“It’s a big issue that we expect to be continuing and lingering because of the cost of education and for many, the lack of resources other than loan,” Allison says.
You can read the entire report here.