The Great Recession is nearly a decade in the rear-view mirror, yet many Americans say they still feel its effects.
One in 3 people say they have yet to, or never will, recover financially from the 2007 recession, according to a new report from Country Financial. Women, African-Americans and low-income people have taken the hardest hit, with 25 percent of women, 26 percent of African-Americans and 37 percent of those earning less than $30,000 per year saying they would not be able to pay their bills within one month of being unemployed.
The survey was conducted by EMC Research for Country Financial, a group of U.S. insurance and financial services companies with customers in 19 states. EMC Research polled 1,000 U.S. adults online in June.
One reason for the slow recovery is a job-skills gap, said Doyle Williams, chief marketing officer for Country Financial.
"The challenge is that people are either locked into areas where there's no job opportunity … or don't have job skills," he said.
One-third of Americans in the survey said the job market is the top concern affecting their financial security. Upheaval in the housing market — which contributed to the recession — ranked a distant second, with 20 percent citing it as an issue in their financial well-being today.
"Ten years ago, the housing crisis was the most important thing," Williams said. "Now that crisis has passed.
"For most people, home values have risen, so that's no longer the most important issue," he added. "Now it's about how to improve the personal finance situation — with jobs."
To that end, look for training or educational opportunities to improve your earnings. There are millions of available jobs but no workers with the right skill-sets to fill them, said Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace, a human resources advisory and research firm providing insights on the future of learning and working.
"Companies need to do a better job of examining the skills they need and then incorporating the right training to get their employees up to speed," said Schawbel, who is also the author of "Promote Yourself" and "Me 2.0." "By up-skilling your employees, they are able to shift into more in-demand, critical positions in your company, which allows you to compete at a higher level."
However, financial security isn't just about earning more. Experts say it's also about making the most of what you have: Build up savings accounts, pay down debt and reduce dependency on credit.
Those Americans who haven't recovered fully from the recession most likely have debt or are not saving, said certified financial planner Victoria Fillet, founder of Blueprint Financial Planning in Hoboken, New Jersey. To avoid being overwhelmed, try to break it down into little pieces that you can handle.
"If you're not saving, start to save even if it's a dollar a day," she said. "It'll give you a sense of accomplishment and encouragement that'll get you started on the right road.
"If debts are your problem, same thing," she added. "Start to focus on and whittle away on that debt."
One of the best ways to improve financial stability is to reduce dependency on credit, said Bruce McClary, spokesman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
"Getting debt under control allows people to turn attention on growing savings for emergencies, short-term goals and a secure retirement," McClary said.
One optimistic note from Country Financial's survey: Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe their financial security and recovery is in their own hands.
"In light of all the world's uncertainty, this self-reliance that Americans still feel, like 'individually I have the most control over what happens to me,' that was a very optimistic and uplifting note that came out of the survey," said Williams.