FORT WORTH, Texas: Personal finance issues are top of mind for career military voters in the upcoming presidential election, according to the latest findings of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®.
Conducted between Aug. 18 and Sept. 10, the survey reveals that middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) are significantly more likely than their civilian counterparts to identify money-related issues as extremely or very important in choosing who they will vote for in November. Top money-related election issues include:
- Social Security benefits. This issue was identified as extremely or very important by 86 percent of military families versus 80 percent of the general population.
- Home values (86 percent for military versus 67 percent for the general population)
- Changes to military retirement and other benefits (82 percent for military versus 41 percent for the general population).
- Cost of health care (80 percent for military versus 83 percent for the general population).
- Private sector jobs (80 percent for military versus 65 percent for the general population).
- Stock market performance (78 percent for military versus 58 percent for the general population).
- Cost of a college education (76 percent for military versus 48 percent for the general population).
- Interest rates (76 percent for military versus 65 percent for the general population).
- Defense spending (72 percent for military versus 54 percent for the general population).
“The strong interest in financial issues we’re seeing among military voters underscores the outsized impact these issues have on their lives,” said Mark Steffe, president/CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Military retirement and benefits and defense spending are important to military families because they are uniquely personal issues for those who have made the military their career.”
Military families are also more likely than the general population to focus on financial issues that are not directly tied to military service. Military voters are concerned about the cost of a college education and stock market performance. And they are strongly interested in private-sector jobs, emphasizing the key role that military spouses play in generating household income.
At a time of high unemployment rates, job security concerns are also higher in military families than the general population. Fifty-nine percent of military respondents say they feel extremely or very concerned about their job security in the coming months. That compares to 31 percent of the general population.
Military spouses face notable employment challenges. Three out of four military spouses report that frequent relocations make it difficult to find and keep employment. That challenge is particularly acute due to COVID-19, as 29 percent of military spouses say they have lost employment because of the virus.
The overall financial impact of COVID-19 is a significant concern for military families. Sixty-two percent of military respondents say they expect to be extremely or very financially affected by the impacts of the pandemic, compared to just 33 percent of the general population.
“Financial issues are vitally important to our nation’s career military families,” Steffe said. “Candidates should keep money concerns top of mind in their outreach to military families for the November election.”