Despite a still shaky U.S. stock market, Americans are continuing to enjoy personal financial satisfaction in the third quarter, according to the AICPA's most recent PFSi (Personal Financial Satisfaction Index) released today.
The PFSi weighs a variety of economic factors to determine the financial standing of typical Americans. It is the result of calculating the difference between the Personal Financial "Pleasure Index" and the "Pain Index." Pleasure factors include the proprietary PFS 750 Market Index, the AICPA’s CPA Outlook Index, Real Home Equity Per Capita and Job Openings Per Capita. Pain factors include inflation, personal taxes, loan delinquencies and underemployment.
ThePFSimeasured 16.2 in the third quarter of 2015, representing a 1.3 point increase from the prior quarter and a 16.3 point increase from 2014. Loan delinquencies on mortgages and other loans were 23.8 percent below third quarter 2014 and 7.2 percent lower than this year's second quarter.
Additionally, underemployment rates are at a nine-year low, or 15.8 percent below 2014. The third-quarter Pleasure Index, held the previous quarter's level due to a 5-point increase in job openings and 2-point increase in home equity nationwide. However, the labor participation rate came in at a 38-year low. One factor causing this was discouraged workers with skill gaps who stopped looking for work.
“Underemployment continues to be an issue having an impact on middle class families during this economic recovery,” stated Jimmy Williams, CPA/PFS, member of AICPA’s National Accreditation Commission. “Many individuals have training, experience and certifications in fields that are in contraction or reducing their labor force. One prominent example is the oil and gas industry, where many skilled engineers are currently taking less pay in a ‘something is better than nothing’ approach to maintaining their family’s cash flow during this period of contraction.”
The PFS 750 Market Index reached an all-time high in the fourth quarter of 2014, and maintained that level in 2015. Its current value is 12.1 percent below that high, and the third quarter of 2015 was the worst for the market in four years. This was the first 10 percent correction since 2011, and more than half of the S&P 500 lost 20 percent or more. The poorest performing industries were broadcasting and media, both down nearly 80 percent. The top performers were Internet stocks, up 120 percent, and technology stocks, up 68 percent.
For more information on the PFSi, head to the AICPA'ssite here.