JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Naval Operations staff sponsored the 2011 Financial Health Quick Poll to reassess possible financial stressors for Navy personnel due to the recent economic downturn and compare 2011 results with those from the May 2008 and January 2009 Financial Health Quick Polls.
Similar to previous polls, the main areas of focus were financial condition, residence and Permanent Change of Station moves. A few spouse employment questions were also included. A stratified, random sample of Navy personnel was selected, with over-sampling by regions to ensure regional representation. The poll was administered to a sample of 12,535 active duty Navy personnel over the Internet. More than 3,100, or 28 percent, completed the poll. The margins of error were ± three percent or less for enlisted and ± four percent or less for officers.
Key financial indicators remain very positive and the good financial results found on prior assessments (2008 and 2009) were maintained. Eighty-two percent of officers and 56 percent of enlisted described their financial situation as excellent or good. Most continue to describe their financial condition as very comfortable or able to make ends meet.
Similarly, 94 percent of officers and 78 percent of enlisted were able to meet their financial obligations in 2011 compared to 79 percent of officers and 42 percent of enlisted in 2000. While 11 percent of officers and 30 percent of enlisted reported that they occasionally have some difficulty, only two percent of officers and nine percent of enlisted say they are keeping their heads above water.
A larger percentage of Navy personnel (58 percent officers, 62 percent enlisted) barely contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan than other Department of Defense services (for example 49 percent Army officers, 37 percent Army enlisted).
Of the 55 percent enlisted personnel provided solutions to reduce financial stress, 22 percent requested assistance with developing a debt plan as a solution, even though this service is already available.
As found on other surveys, spouse employment opportunities are a concern:
56 percent of officers and 46 percent of enlisted reported their spouse did not use the spouse preference policy to gain employment. Thirty percent of officers and 39 percent of enlisted were not aware of the spouse preference policy. Of the approximately 50 percent of officers and enlisted who provided solutions to reduce financial stress, 26 percent selected spouse employment opportunities as a solution to financial stress.
Housing-related concerns (e.g., increases in utilities, insurance and rent) continue to be the top financial problems experienced by officers and enlisted in the past year. Fifty-nine percent of officers and 26 percent of enlisted currently own one or more homes. A majority have fixed rate loans. Ten percent of officers have adjustable rate loans on their primary residence, declining from a high of 27 percent in 2008.
Results indicate fewer officers own their home as more are renting. A larger percentage of officers reported renting housing off base at their current duty station in 2011 (47 percent) than in 2008 (38 percent) and 2009 (36 percent).
Similarly, fewer officers reported owning a home at their current duty station in 2011 (36 percent) than on previous polls (43 percent in 2008 and 46 percent in 2009).
Twenty-two percent of officers reported an inability to sell their home at either their current or previous duty station as a financial problem in the past year, up slightly from 19 percent in 2009.