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Older Adults Say Their Financial Situations Are Looking Up – But Barely

So do you want the good news first or the bad news?

OK, the good news: We’re feeling better about our net worth and our finances in general. According to a new index that measures our perceptions of our financial security, most of us between the ages of 50 and 64 believe that our overall financial picture has improved in the last 12 months.

Yes, we still have a long way to go, but let’s not ruin a feel-good (or less bad?) moment.

– On job security: 25 percent of us say we feel less secure in our jobs now than we did a year ago, down from 29 percent.

– On savings: 44 percent of us say we’re less comfortable with the amount we have in savings today compared with a year ago, down from 50 percent.

– On our overall financial situation: 35 percent of us say we’re worse off now than a year ago, down from 38 percent.

– On debt: About 25 percent of us say we’re less comfortable now than we were a year ago with the amount of debt we’ve accumulated, down from 27 percent.

– On net worth: About 22 percent of us say our nest eggs are worth less today than 12 months ago, down from 39 percent.

Now for the bad news: We feel worse about most of these money matters than do people under age 50. And we can thank the deep recession for that.

“The issue of long-term unemployment and the likelihood of having to settle for a job with much lower pay for those who’d been laid off in their 50s resonates deeply in terms of [older Americans’] feelings about job security,” says Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst for the consumer website Bankrate.com, which produced the index.

“The wounds from 2008 are still very fresh with regard to impact on their net worth and their overall financial situation,” he says. “They had more capital at risk when the recession hit than their younger counterparts.”

Of some 1,000 people polled for the index, few in any age group said they felt heady about the economy. In fact, September’s Financial Security Index score (96.6) was the lowest since last December. Readings below 100 indicate that Americans feel less financially secure than they did 12 months earlier. The index has been below 100 in 20 of the last 22 months, since the index was first rolled out in December 2010.

The gap between how younger and older adults viewed their situations was pretty wide in some cases:

The two age groups were equally likely (25 percent) to feel uneasy about their accumulation of debt in the last 12 months. About 22 percent of both groups felt their nest eggs were less today than 12 months ago.

Photo credit: 401(k) 2012 via flickr.com

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