You don't have to take a survey to know people are worried about jobs and think the economy is heading in the wrong direction. You probably overheard someone grumbling about one or the other today while you were debating whether you should blow your pocket change on an overpriced latte or something with even more potential, like a lottery ticket.
Still, it's interesting to learn that everything you think you know is true. And that's pretty much what the latest research from Fannie Mae (OTC: FNMA) confirms. Just yesterday, Fannie Mae released its latest quarterly National Housing Survey.
If you simplify the data, it comes down to this: We're worried about losing our homes, and our jobs, struggling to pay for properties that are worth less than what we owe on them, concerned we don't have enough savings, more intimate than we ever dreamed we'd be with foreclosures, and only mildly optimistic about improvements in the future.
The most optimistic, perhaps because they've had fewer years to have the wind knocked out of their sails, are the youngest. While 57% of Generation Y Americans (age 18-34) expect their personal situation to improve in the next year, only 42% Generation X (age 35-44) and 35% of Baby Boomers (age 45-64) expect things to get better.
We've become fairly pessimistic... and not without good reason: 64% of Americans surveyed during the second quarter said the economy is on the wrong track. And it's not getting better. When asked the same question last month, the number jumped to 70%. Sort of makes you wonder what President Obama hopes to accomplish riding through the Midwest on a private bus.
But back to the survey, which also found 26% of American workers worry about losing their jobs in the next 12 months. If you add in the 9.2% of the population officially looking for work, you discover an astounding 35.2% are either looking for a job or fearful they may have to -- and that's without factoring in the countless others who have become so discouraged they're no longer looking for work.
People don't stop looking lightly either: Unemployed people searched about 20 weeks in 2010 before giving up completely, up from 8.5 weeks in 2007.
Many of those concerned about job loss have seen their expenses rise, and just one in three consider their savings sufficient to weather possible downturns, the survey found. They don't consider it a "good time to buy" and only 26% predict home prices will rise in the next year.
Renters are not eager to become homeowners, either. If they have to move, more than half of those renting single family homes and nearly 70% of those living in multifamily dwellings say they'll rent again.
So much for the American dream.
And so much for that old thing about a person's house being his castle. I suppose that's true. But castles are expensive. They can be chilly and drafty. They're no place to call home, at least not when you're preoccupied with the real or imagined fear of losing your job. President Obama, please get off the bus.