Economic worries are dissipating, sequestration concerns are on the rise and members of America’s career military are feeling the mixed emotions of both as they simultaneously become more confident in their immediate finances and more anxious about their careers and future.
The latest results of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveal that roughly half of middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) are feeling confident on several issues related to near-term finances. Survey data collected in late February shows they are feeling:
- Not at all or not very financially stretched month to month (58 percent, up three points from January)
- Extremely or very financially secure month to month (52 percent, up six points).
- Extremely or very confident that their financial situation will improve in the next year (50 percent, up five points).
These are the highest percentages recorded – and the first time all three measurements were at or above the 50 percent mark – since the Index began collecting responses on these topics in 2011.
But confidence is slipping on longer-term issues. When survey respondents were asked to gauge their confidence in the ability to retire comfortably, just 38 percent said they feel extremely or very confident. That’s down six points. And military families are feeling the impact of sequestration on a number of compensation issues, with reduced retirement benefits easily emerging as their top concern. It was cited by 38 percent of survey respondents in January and February compared to just 15 percent in October.
Career worries are also growing. Servicemembers expressed concerns on several sequestration-related issues, including:
- Likelihood of not being promoted (33 percent, up seven points from January).
- Early separation or not serving to full retirement (26 percent, up seven points).
- Job security (32 percent, up six points).