According to a new report from the CUNA Mutual Group, an insurance provider, middle-class families are becoming more concerned about an eminent recession and less confident of their ability to achieve the American Dream.
(The County Financial Index defines the American Dream as achieving homeownership. Home ownership is the top priority over getting married, having children and being able to retire.)
Six months ago, middle-class families were more optimistic about the economy than they are now. Six months ago, middle-class families gave themselves a grade of B- when asked about their ability to achieve the “life milestone” of buying a home…now these same families give themselves a C when asked about their ability to buy a house.
In a separate report done at the end of Q2 2019, Allianiz Life, also an insurance provider, found that 48% of middle-class families fear a major recession. This percentage of 48% is up from 46% in Q1 2019 and up from 44% last year at this time.
Among these middle class families, parents are more concerned about a possible recession than non-parents. Steven Rick, the chief economist with CUNA, suggests“…these fears should be a wake-up call to families to start shoring up their finances now.”
The too-common way most middle class families “shore up their finances” is reducing their retirement savings in order to have more available cash if/when they need it.
Rick advises not reducing retirement savings but instead, “…if the Federal Reserve lowers its rates in July, borrowers should consider paying down high-interest debt by getting a lower annual percentage rate on their credit card or refinancing their mortgage at a lower rate…not cutting back on retirement contributions.”
Why? Everyone including middle-class parents and families is going to retire someday even if they can’t imagine doing so now. And when they inevitably do retire, those middle-class families and parents are going to need every penny of those retirement contributions.
Additionally, inventories of affordable housing units in three of the nation’s fastest growing cities have become too expensive for more potential owners and renters, according to Curbed’s Patrick Sisson. Charlotte NC is short 34,000 affordable housing units; Salt Lake City reports having more families than available places to live with a shortage of 54,000 units; and Columbus OH’s market cooled “…after ever-higher prices exhausted buyers who can’t keep up with costs.”