Women are now the primary breadwinners in the U.S., according to new research from Prudential Financial. (And I can't help but thinking, "Oh, really?!?) The 12th annual study, “Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women," finds that 53 percent of the more than 1,400 women surveyed are primary breadwinners, due mainly to partners who lost jobs during the financial crisis, divorce and women deciding to marry later on in life. Prudential expanded this year's respondent pool to include a larger representation of women from diverse backgrounds and income levels. Some interesting notes from the research:
- Only 20 percent of women feel well prepared to make financial decisions, compared to 45 percent of men;
- 70 percent of women say they have lost ground due to the financial crisis—30 percent report they are struggling to make ends meet;
- 30 percent of women say they’ve experienced a layoff in their households as a direct result of the economic downturn;
- 40 percent of women say they're optimistic about the country’s economic prospects;
- More men (24 percent) than women (16 percent) report being very pessimistic about the economy;
- 22 percent of women who are married or living with a partner report being the one who makes the most money, varying greatly by race, with 33 percent of Asian American and 31 percent of African American married women being the higher-income earners, compared to 19 percent of white women;
- Female breadwinners are more likely to say they maintain completely separate financial accounts and investments from their spouses;
- Married/partnered women are more likely than their male counterparts to say they share financial decision making equally (35 percent vs. 21 percent);
- Women worry most about household expenses, debt and their abilities to save for retirement, men are more focused on external factors such as the state of the economy;
- Women earning US$50,000+ have become less confident about maintaining their lifestyle in retirement over the life of the study; and
- Women under age 35 are more likely to feel as though they are in the driver’s seat when it comes to financial decision making, and a significant number (42 percent) recognize that they need to be in charge of their financial goals.
Some interesting food for thought for female professionals.