Survey: Feds Save More Money Than Average Americans
Alex M. Parker | Government Executive
December 03, 2009
Federal employees saved more money between March and September than the general population, according to a new survey from a financial firm.
On average, fed workers contributed $2,289 per month to their savings — either through short-term, long-term or retirement savings accounts — during the six-month period studied by First Command Financial Services, a firm that serves military and public sector employee families. That figure represented an increase of 56 percent, compared with the previous six-month period from September 2008 to March 2009. Military families’ savings increased by 23 percent, to $2,385 per month from March to September 2009, according to the survey.
Overall, Americans with similar incomes saved $1,923 per month between March and September, a decrease of 11 percent from the previous six-month period.
Retirement savings this year increased by 85 percent among federal employees to $1,388 per month, while the general population contributed 25 percent less — $765 per month — to retirement.
The results, released on Tuesday, are based on two surveys that First Command Financial Services conducted: a monthly assessment of about 1,000 U.S. citizens with annual household incomes of at least $50,000, and a semi-annual survey of approximately 410 federal employee households. The study also found that federal employees were slightly more optimistic about the economy than their private sector counterparts.
Mark Leach, a spokesman for the company, said it was difficult to pinpoint why savings among federal employees rose, but it could be a reflection of feds’ relative job security compared with that of most Americans.
“They’re in situations where they feel fairly certain and confident that their employment is going to continue,” Leach said. “Like all good Americans, they understand that they’re in an environment where it’s wise to pursue a frugal lifestyle.”
Another reason federal employees are putting away more could be due to changes to the Thrift Savings Plan. As part of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, Congress automatically enrolled all new employees into the Thrift Savings Plan and expedited the start date for employee contributions. TSP administrators say the changes contributed to a boost in enrollment of more than 100,000 this year, as well as a bump in the TSP fund balances.