Federal Reserve Board: Household Financial Well-Being Improves

U.S. household financial well-being improved in 2021, the Federal Reserve Board said Monday.

The Fed issued its Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2021 report, which found self-reported financial well-being reached its highest level since the report began in 2013. More than three-quarters of adults reported either “doing okay” or “living comfortably” financially last year.

“Financial well-being also increased among all the racial and ethnic groups measured in the survey, with a particularly large increase among Hispanic adults,” the report said.

Federal Reserve Board Governor Michelle W. Bowman noted the report provides insight into Americans’ financial conditions during the late fall of 2021. “This important perspective helps the Federal Reserve better understand the economic challenges that existed during that phase of the pandemic recovery,” she said.

The share of adults who reported they could cover a $400 emergency expense using cash or equivalent increased to the highest level since 2013 at 68 percent, up from 50 percent when the survey began. But the report noted 11 percent of adults said they could not pay a $400 emergency expense by any method.

The survey also studied the experiences of workers through the pandemic. Fifteen percent of workers said they changed jobs with the last 12 months. Most who changed jobs reported the job change was an improvement. Remote work also evolved in 2021. During the week of the survey in late 2021, 22 percent of employees worked entirely from home, down from 29 percent in late 2020 but well above the 7 percent who worked entirely from home before the pandemic.

“Most employees who worked from home preferred to do so, often citing work-life balance and less time commuting,” the report said. “Those working from home indicated that they would be about as likely to look for a new job if required to return to the office as if their employer instituted a pay freeze.”