As the threat of dropping off the so-called "fiscal cliff" looms, financial security continues to slump for many Americans, new research shows.
Specifically, 18 percent of those surveyed feel less secure about their job status than a year ago, while 39 percent are less comfortable with the amount of money they've saved. In addition, 24 percent are more upset with the amount of debt they have than they were last year.
The only area in which Americans feel more confident than a year ago is in their net worth. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said their total assets have increased since last year. Overall, however, 26 percent of Americans feel their overall financial situation has worsened compared to a year ago.
Since the presidential election had finished when the survey was conducted, Bankrate believes that the uncertainty over the fiscal cliffis partially to blame for these financial fears. But rising household expenses share some of the blame. The survey discovered that nearly one-third of Americans name staying current, or getting caught up, on bills as their top financial priority.
"This is consistent with the stagnant household incomes many people are experiencing, as well as continued escalation in food, healthcare and energy costs that are squeezing households' buying power," said Greg McBride, Bankrate's senior financial analyst.
Concern over bills correlated with respondents' paycheck sizes. Those most likely to say cite paying bills as their top financial priority came from households with incomes below $50,000 per year.
Many Americans also worry about paying down debt and building up savings, the survey found. These concerns became more of a priority as income increased.
The research was based on surveys of 1,000 adults living in the continental United States.