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By The Numbers: Main Street and Wall Street At Odds

Contrary to Many Wall Street Predictions, Main Street Paying Down Debt and Not Spending in 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Jan. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- When it comes to economics, Wall Street predictions don't seem to be dictating Main Street sentiments. According to the latest COUNTRY Financial Security Index® survey, consumers may beg to differ – in some cases, a lot – on issues like job security, spending, income and debt.

Main Street complacency challenges positive predictions from Wall Street:

Wall Street 2014 Forecast

Main Street 2014 Prediction

Unemployment and Job Security                               

According to data, 2014 will see a decrease to an unemployment rate of 6.3 percent by the end of the year.*

However, two-thirds (68 percent) say they expect their personal job security to be about the same or worse this year. Just 18 percent expect it to be better.

Spending                                

Economists think consumers will loosen their purse strings as they predict a 2.4 percent increase in consumer spending.**

In stark contrast, three in four (76 percent) say they expect their spending to stay the same or decrease. Of those who expect it to decrease, 58 percent say it will go down by at least 3 percent.

Income                                

Wall Street pundits expect personal incomes to rise by more than 3 percent in 2014.***

While 30 percent of Main Street-ers expect their incomes to increase, another 62 percent say their personal income will stay the same or decrease this year.

"Americans tend to just start feeling optimistic about positive economic news as the macro environment takes a sharp left turn. Perhaps because of this, they have learned from the volatility of the last few years and are more cautious," says Troy Frerichs, senior investment officer at COUNTRY Financial. "The best way to beat Wall Street's odds, or meet them in this case, is to concentrate on what you can control and look at the new year as a time to evaluate and make any necessary changes to your financial plan."

At least we can all agree on something:

Debt                       

After record post-recession increases in 2013,

economists expect a leveling off of household debt

this year. Consumer debt is expected to continue

to increase, but there is also an anticipated increase

in those paying down debt.****

Thirty-seven percent say they expect their personal debt to decrease in 2014. Of those, one in five plan to pay it down by at least 10 percent.

 

Another 46 percent say the amount of personal debt they have will stay the same and just 11 percent expect it to increase.

"At a time when Americans are also experiencing low wage growth, it's encouraging to see they are using their money to pay down debts, leaving little room for discretionary spending. By curbing their spending and decreasing personal debt, Americans are better positioned to achieve financial security," continues Frerichs. "Creating a financial plan and sticking to a budget helps to ensure that paying down debt the last few years won't be in vain when times do get better.  It helps to reduce uncertainty by focusing on things you can control, like what you do with your money." 

For more information on how Main Street sentiments compare with Wall Street predictions, please visit www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com.

*According to the Federal Reserve
**According to the NABE
***According to Kiplinger
****According to BlackRock, Moody's Analytics

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index®
Since 2007, the COUNTRY Financial Security Index has measured Americans' sentiments of their personal financial security. The COUNTRY Index also delves deeper into individual personal finance topics to better inform Americans about the issues impacting their finances. Survey data, videos and analysis are available at www.countryfinancialsecurityblog.com and on Twitter at @FinanceSecure.

The COUNTRY Index was created by COUNTRY Financial  and is compiled by Rasmussen Reports, LLC, an independent research firm, based on a national telephone and online survey of at least 3,000 Americans. 

The margin of sampling error for a survey based on this many interviews is approximately +/- 2 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

About COUNTRY
COUNTRY Financial (www.countryfinancial.com) serves about one million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a full range of financial products and services from auto, home and life insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.

SOURCE COUNTRY Financial

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