Americans feel they are responsible for their own financial security, but a majority expect the government to provide a social safety net, according to a survey by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

"Consumers are assuming a significant amount of responsibility in nearly every element of their personal financial lives-retirement, health care, education-but they still look to government to provide support and protections," said CFP Board Chief Executive Officer Kevin R. Keller.

Keller predicted U.S. economic growth to be even better if Americans are equipped to make smart financial decisions and plan for their financial future. Citizens are generally more optimistic than pessimistic that economic conditions will improve, he said.  

Highlights from the survey indicate that Americans are struggling to balance short- and long-term concerns:

Survey respondents believe that the government, in addition to providing a safety net, has a role in protecting people from fraud and abuse.

Americans are divided on how they are faring in their personal financial situation as compared to one year ago. However, Americans express more optimism for their future financial situation.

More than two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) believe it is the government's duty to protect investors from fraud and abuse.

Over the next year, 79 percent of blacks and 76 percent of Hispanics expect their financial situation to improve. In contrast, an estimated 43 percent of whites surveyed expect their financial situation to improve.

Liberals registered the highest degree of optimism at 62 percent, compared with 44 percent of conservative who felt that way.

Securing and keeping a job is of paramount importance to young people (18-34), with 51 percent of women and 55 percent of men expressing this as a major financial worry.

A third expressed concern that they will outlive their retirement assets, and nearly two in five feel their financial security is more at risk than ever before.

The survey was based on a telephone survey of 1,015 Americans ages 18 and older that was conducted by KRC Research between March 1 and 4.

-Jim McConville