67% of Americans say finances haven't improved since 2016 election

Katie Krzaczek
Associate Editor

Most adults in the U.S. feel their financial well-being hasn’t improved since President Trump took office in 2017, according to Bankrate’s latest survey leading up to the 2020 election. 

Despite reports that Americans’ finances should have improved over the past two years, 46% of Americans say their financial situation has stayed about the same, and an additional 21% say their finances have gotten worse – which comes to more than two-thirds (67%) of people who feel their finances haven’t improved since the last election. All the experts surveyed by Bankrate disagree, saying Americans should be better off.

“One could make the argument that you should’ve had more substantial improvement when [Trump] likes to point to things like...the Dow Industrials Average, as if that is a benchmark of the financial standing of all Americans,” Bankrate Senior Economic Analyst Mark Hamrick said on Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.”

DALLAS, TEXAS - OCTOBER 17: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" Campaign Rally at American Airlines Center on October 17, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

There’s a greater disparity in perceived financial improvement among socioeconomic lines. Of households earning $75,000 or more a year, 84% say their finances have improved or stayed the same. That’s true for only 66% of households earning under $30,000 per year.

“We continue to have a significant divide in the country” when it comes to the economic standing of low-income Americans, according to Hamrick.

“A significant number of Americans are still living paycheck-to-paycheck,” he added. Indeed, despite record-low unemployment rates, wage growth has largely been flat: over last year, average hourly earnings rose just 2.9%, marking the slowest pace of increases since July 2018.

Key issues for Americans in 2020 election

Looking ahead to next year’s presidential election, health care, employment, and taxes lead the list of financial concerns. Experts agree on health care and employment, but foreign trade ranks No. 3 on their list of financial concerns.

“In terms of health care,” Hamrick said, “we know that it’s not just access to health care, it’s the cost of health care, even for healthy people.”

The average health insurance premium for family coverage has increased 22% over the last five years and 54% over the last 10 years, significantly more than either workers’ wages or inflation, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Breaking down the results demographically, housing affordability made its way into the top 3 concerns for key groups including Democrats, women, and millennials.

Source: Bankrate

“Millennials put employment as a priority over health care,” Hamrick said, because they “don’t have to tap the health care system as often.”

Housing affordability is also higher ranking among younger Americans, and Hamrick said the “complicated issues” of income inequality, housing affordability, and unemployment create an opportunity for Democrats going into 2020.

Follow Katie on Twitter: @hashtagkatie.

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