Are you better off financially than you were four years ago?
A lot depends on your gender and age group, according to a recent financial outlook survey by Stash,* which asked more than 12,000 customers in March, 2020, how their financial situations might have changed since President Trump took office.
The survey found that as Trump’s first term comes to an end, and as the 2020 election approaches, users are split over how the administration’s policies have affected their personal finances.
The survey also found that the coronavirus known as Covid-19, which has rocked the global economy, has also affected how customers are spending their money. The coronavirus and its impact on Americans’ health and personal finance could color the upcoming presidential election.
Findings from the survey
More than a third of all users said their financial situations had improved since President Trump took office, while 22% said their situation had worsened. Forty-three percent of users said that their situation remained unchanged.
However, men surveyed said their finances had improved more than women did. More than 40% of men responded that their financial situation is better than it was before the Trump administration took office, while only 25% of women responded that way.
The survey also found that 25% of baby boomers, between the ages of 56 and 74, said their financial situation has worsened over the course of Trump’s first term. One quarter of baby Boomers who reported that their situation had gotten better attributed the improvement to tax reform, compared to just 12% of millennials. While less than a quarter of Gen Z, defined as those between the ages of 18 and 24, said their financial situation had deteriorated, more than a quarter of this age group attributed it to lack of wage growth, while 17% said it was because of high housing costs.
There were also differences in results according to household income and race. Users who earn $50,000 or less in household income were more likely to report that their financial situation had worsened during Trump’s presidency by eight percentage points. Hispanic and African American users were more likely to respond that way by seven percentage points.
Background on current economic policies
Over half of the respondents who said that their situation had improved said the change was due to wage growth, while 15% attributed it to tax reform from 2017. Of the 22% who said their situation has worsened, 30% attributed that change to lack of wage growth and almost 20% attributed it to tax reform.
In 2017, Trump presided over the biggest tax cut in a generation, which reduced the top ordinary income rate to 37% from 39%, doubled the standard deduction for ordinary taxpayers, and slashed corporate tax rates. Despite wage increases and 50-year low unemployment during Trump’s first term, unemployment rose to its highest level since the Great Depression in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Looking ahead to the election
In fact, the pandemic is already affecting the way some Americans are spending their money. Nearly 40% of survey respondents said that they are spending less money in response to the pandemic than they were before. (Slightly more women—37%— said they’ve been spending less due to Covid-19, compared to 34% of men.
As American leadership continues to react to the pandemic and the financial turmoil it’s causing, the coronavirus could become an important part of the upcoming general election. Heading into an election season in the middle of a pandemic, 30% of respondents said they felt fearful about their financial situations, while 30% said they felt hopeful. Forty percent said they felt neutral.
While no one can say with certainty what will happen during the pandemic or the election, you can do your best to maintain your financial health by budgeting, saving, and investing small amounts regularly for the short-term and the long-term.