Savings levels dwindle, job anxiety mounts

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Almost one quarter of U.S. homeowners do not have savings to cover their living expenses should they lose their income, according to a quarterly survey from Wells Fargo.

At the same time, anxiety over job stability was up from 21 percent during fourth quarter 2008 to 29 percent during first quarter 2009. Respondents also showed a significantly higher desire to increase savings while reducing debt (60 percent versus 53 percent) and to pay debt down faster (53 percent versus 46 percent), compared to the last survey.

Less than one-quarter of respondents – 23 percent – have increased their savings, but 37 percent say they have paid down debt, and 12 percent paid off debt completely during the past year.

The economy has prompted many to take drastic action to reduce expenses. Since last year the survey found about one-third of homeowners – 34 percent – said they have had family or friends move in with them, and 42 percent are spending less on their children.