With companies like Apple, IBM, and Harley-Davidson recently posting big earnings, it may be easy to start feeling more optimistic about the economy. But Americans have found that even when the markets are growing, our pocketbooks might not be.
So what exactly is the financial situation for Americans today? The most recent government surveys, polls, research, and census data -- gathered by New Strategist Publications in The American Marketplace -- give us 27 financial facts about what we own, what we owe, and much more.
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What We Make
Even with unemployment numbers on the rise, the average American is still employed and insured. Fifty-eight percent of Americans have a job, with an average salary of $735 a week, and 56 percent of Americans still receive employer-provided health insurance. The majority of Americans still recognize the importance of the daily grind, with 70 percent claiming hard work is the way to get ahead in the job market.
What We Own
The American dream still includes a home of our own: Sixty-seven percent of Americans are homeowners. The average American lives in a 1,800-square-foot house built before 1975. Along with a home, the average American household also owns two vehicles and the majority (62 percent) owns at least one pet.
What We Do With Our Money
While the average American household has a net worth of $96,000, that figure includes the equity in our homes. When it comes to more liquid financial assets, 54 percent of Americans have less than $100,000 in savings and only 19 percent of households directly own stock. But Americans are still spending money. The average American spends $69 a day, even though we only have an average of $34 in our wallets.
How We Spend on Technology
It's a technological world we live in now, so it makes sense that a large chunk of our money goes into these products. The majority of Americans own a desktop (59 percent) and/or a laptop (52 percent) computer, and 76 percent of Americans use the Internet on a typical day. Today, a whopping 87 percent of Americans have a cell phone (35 percent own a smartphone), whereas only 70 percent of Americans still use a landline.
What We Worry About
The economy might be showing signs of an uptick, but 58 percent of Americans are still worried about being able to maintain their standard of living. It's no wonder we're worried: Including mortgage obligations, the average American household carries $75,600 in debt. We're working hard to stay on top of it, though: 54 percent pay credit card bills in full each month.
Still, keeping and creating jobs in the U.S. remains the most important political priority for 51 percent of Americans. Even more Americans (60 percent) believe the economy, specifically jobs, will be the top issue in the 2012 election. And Americans want government to spend more money on health care (60 percent) -- a necessity that now costs the average American $3,126 a year out-of-pocket. They also want to see more spending on the environment (60 percent), and education (74 percent).