The Fed issued the first-time report Thursday, describing it as a snapshot of how Americans perceive their financial and economic well-being. The survey of about 4,100 households was conducted from Sept. 17 through Oct. 4, 2013.
Thirteen percent said they were struggling to get by, and 34 percent reported they were somewhat worse off or much worse off than before the Great Recession hit in 2008.
Other findings: a third of those who had applied for credit in the previous 12 months said they were turned down or given less than they requested, and 24 percent had some type of education debt.
Thirty-one percent of people who aren't retired said they had no retirement savings or pension, including 19 percent of those aged 55 to 64. Nearly half of adults weren't actively thinking about financial planning for retirement, with 25 percent saying they had done no planning at all.
Twenty-six percent of homeowners said they expected prices in their neighborhood to increase by as much as 5 percent in the 12 months following the survey period.
As the economic recovery enters its sixth year, a number of factors help explain why many Americans don't feel better off: Income hasn't rebounded. Millions are working part time even though they want full-time jobs. It's taking longer to find work. People are still struggling with mortgage debt. Most people don't feel free to spend as much as they once did.
A new annual report released Thursday by the Commerce Department shows that consumer spending has soared since the recession ended in U.S. states with oil and gas drilling booms and has lagged in states hit especially hard by the housing market bust. The state-by-state report points to substantial shifts in the economy since the recession.