Women more optimistic overall as pandemic wanes, but worry about the economy
There’s good news and bad news in a new report released this week from Fidelity Investments.
The good news: Women have a much more positive outlook on their careers, relationships and caregiving responsibilities today than they did a year ago in the heart of the pandemic.
The bad news: Despite this optimism, nearly half of women (47 percent) say their long-term outlook on money and the economy has actually gotten worse thanks to current economic factors like 40-year-high inflation.
Previous studies showed women were much more likely than men to cut back on their non-essential expenses and entertainment in the past year. A study released earlier this summer by Bank of America found that less than half of women feel confident about their overall financial situation.
The Fidelity study, Prioritizing What’s Important: Finances, Career and Overall Well-Being, found that the short-term actions women took – cutting back on travel, postponing major purchases, etc. – will not eliminate their three primary stressors, which include inflation (71 percent); cost of essentials (65 percent); and not having enough saved for emergencies (56 percent).
Gen Z women, in particular, are more stressed about the cost of education (55 percent); paying off student loans (44 percent); and not knowing how to invest (46 percent).
“After weathering disproportionate economic impacts over the past two years – from higher health care costs to caregiving costs and more student loan debt – women are ready to re- energize their futures,” said Joanna Rotenberg, president of personal investing at Fidelity Investments. Women specifically want to learn more about managing debt and credit, creating and sticking to a budget and saving more money, she said.
Back to the good news: Overall, the majority of women say they have a positive outlook on their personal life, according to the study. More specifically, 71 percent said they feel this way when it comes to relationships with family and friends; 59 percent said this about their physical health; and 51 percent felt their overall mental health and emotional well-being had improved since the previous year.
Younger working women are having a harder time, though. Only 31 percent of Gen Z and millennial working women feel they have the resources to manage their stress and burnout, compared to 50 percent of baby boomer women. Gen Z (35 percent) and millennial (31 percent) women also were more likely to have taken time off from work due to challenges with mental health or burnout, compared with just 14 percent of older women.