Blog

The U.S. Financial Health Pulse: A Roadmap for Recovery

Thursday, January 28, 2021

By: Thea Garon, Senior Director

As vaccines roll out across the country, the Biden administration is considering bold policies to help struggling households, businesses, and communities recover from the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For these efforts to be successful, the new administration – along with businesses, employers, and other stakeholders – will need nuanced data about the current state of people’s financial lives.

Now in its fourth year, the U.S. Financial Health Pulse will deliver these insights by releasing regular, rigorous, and disaggregated snapshots of financial health in America. Together with our research partners, USC’s Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) and Plaid, we will continue to analyze survey and transactional data from study participants who authorize it. We are also pleased to welcome the Citi Foundation, who is funding the next three years of the Pulse as part of their Action for Racial Equity commitment. With the Citi Foundation’s generous support, we plan to release insights about financial health inequities and identify solutions to dismantle systemic barriers to financial health.

Insights from 3 Years of Pulse Data

Over the past three years, we have built a robust data set consisting of longitudinal survey and transactional data from thousands of study participants. We have released annual Trends Reports that tracked how financial health has changed across the country and for various groups of people in America. We’ve also explored the financial lives of diverse populations (including older Americans, young adults, the financially coping, and residents of Hawaii) and drawn attention to critical issues shaping financial health, such as generational circumstances, increasing costs of living, workplace instability, neighborhood quality, physical health, and savings and debt. During this time, more financial services providers, employers, and other businesses began to measure financial health to inform solutions to improve their customers’ and employees’ financial lives. This work was made possible by our founding sponsors, Flourish, MetLife Foundation, and AARP, as well as our research partners, CESR and Plaid.

Looking Ahead to Ongoing Insights

Over the next three years, we will further embed financial health in the national discourse as an important economic indicator that sheds light on the well-being of everyday Americans. New quarterly updates will supplement the annual Trends Reports and offer additional data and insights about the factors that shape financial health in America. We also plan to report regularly on disparities in financial health across key demographics, inspiring action that can reduce financial health inequities over time. For example, we are conducting quantitative and qualitative research to better understand the financial lives of low-income workers, particularly women and workers of color, with the Target Foundation’s support.

While our research provides valuable data that examines the causes and implications of changes to financial health, we also hope that others in the ecosystem will use the publicly available data set and share their insights broadly. We plan to engage academics and researchers in new ways and to leverage the data to support policy efforts to improve financial health across America. Along the way, we will consider how to expand the Pulse data set over time to allow for more real-time, representative, and localized insights.

We invite you to review recent reports, download the data set, and sign up for updates at the bottom of this webpage to stay informed about new research and events.

The U.S. Financial Health Pulse is made possible through a three-year funding partnership with the Citi Foundation. Since the inception of the initiative in 2018, the Financial Health Network has partnered with the University of Southern California Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) to field the study to their online panel, the Understanding America Study. Study participants who agree to share their transactional and account data use Plaid’s data connectivity services to authorize their data for analysis.

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