Financial Stress Drops In April

Financial Stress Drops In April

The TIPP Financial Stress Index fell in April.

Raghavan Mayur
Raghavan Mayur

Stimulus checks, improved job market conditions, and increased vaccinations are helping to reduce Americans' financial stress.

Relevance

The TIPP Financial Stress Index is a good indicator of Americans' financial stress related to paying bills and making ends meet.  Consumer spending drives two-thirds of the economy.  People are hesitant to spend money when they are financially stressed. The index also measures job-related tensions, which rise when the labor market is difficult.

By The Numbers

TIPP computes the index from responses to the question: thinking of your personal finances, compared to the past three months, do you feel more stressed these days, less stressed these days, or feel the same level of stress?

The index ranges from 0 to 100; the higher the number more the stress, a reading of 50.0 is the neutral point.

The overall index fell to 56.8 in April, a 4.9 points decline and is

  • 7.9% lower than the March reading of 61.7, and
  • 3.1% lower than its historical average of 58.6.

The April reading is between the 69.8 recorded in April 2020, the first reading after the pandemic began, and the 51.3 recorded in March 2020, before the pandemic started.  For the fifth month in a row, it is approaching the pre-pandemic level.

The index is also below its three-month moving average for the fifth month in a row, a welcome sign of strength.

Under The Hood

The improvement is broad-based across demographic categories.  35 of 36 categories we track improved on the index in April.  Only Northeast showed higher stress.

Despite the improvement, 34 of the 36 demographic groups scored above 50, indicating broad-based stress.

Here are the ten demographic groups with the highest stress levels based on a three-month simple moving average.  Some of the financial stress is driven by politics.  Conservatives and Republicans are concerned about the new administration's policies.

The chart below shows the ten demographic groups with the least stress.  The least stressed groups are Blacks, liberals, and the 65+ age group.

The trajectory of the data is encouraging.  As the economy improves, there will be more jobs.  Anxiety about money will likely lessen.


TIPP Takes

Tokyo Olympics Could Be Canceled

  • With 100 days to go, 70% of Japanese don't want games to go ahead in a poll.
  • An estimated 90,000 people to Tokyo this summer, including 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, would attend the event.
  • Coronavirus infections are on the rise in many parts of Japan, and many people will not be vaccinated in time for the scheduled start date in July.
  • Many experts believe the risk to public health is too great to hold the Games.

Beijing's Top Official In Hong Kong Warns Foreign Powers Not To Interfere

  • Beijing's top representative in the city warned foreign powers that they would be taught a lesson if they tried to use the global financial center as a "pawn."
  • China imposed sweeping legislation last year referred to as the national security law. The West criticized the new law for restricting rights and freedoms, while Its supporters argue that the law has restored order following massive anti-government and anti-China protests in 2019.
  • Stickers and bookmarks with the words "Uphold National Security, Protect Our Home" have been distributed to schools and kindergartens.
  • In February, Hong Kong released national security education guidelines that include teaching students as young as six years old about colluding with foreign forces, terrorism, secession, and subversion - the four major crimes under the new law.

India Sees Record Case Numbers As Millions Of Pilgrims Flock To Hindu Festival

  • India reported 184,372 new cases on Tuesday, the highest daily increase in its history.
  • More than three million Hindu devotees bathed in the Ganges river on Tuesday to celebrate one of the most auspicious days of the two-month-long festival called Kumbh Mela.
  • Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges River will cleanse them of their sins and bring them salvation.
  • Many have criticized the government for allowing the festival amid a pandemic.

Nearly Half Of Women, Girls 'do not own their bodies', U.N. Says

  • Approximately half of women and adolescent girls in developing countries are denied the right to choose whether to have sex with their partners, use contraception, or seek healthcare.
  • The report, titled My Body is My Own, examined both women's ability to make their own decisions about their bodies and the extent to which countries' laws supported or impeded that right.
  • The report analyzed data from 57 developing countries where data was available. Forty-five percent of women were not fully empowered to decide about healthcare, contraception, and whether or not to have sex.
  • While 76 percent of women in Eastern and Southeast Asia make their own decisions about their bodies, the figure in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central, and South Asia is less than 50 percent.
  • Twenty countries or territories worldwide have "marry-your-rapist" laws, which allow a rapist to avoid criminal prosecution if he marries the woman or girl he raped. In comparison, 43 countries have no legislation addressing the issue of marital rape.

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