RIVERWOODS, Ill. (1/19/11)--Although it noted that credit unions did not engage in the practices that contributed to today's economic mess, a new study indicates that even credit union members--"a typically confident group of consumers"--are feeling the economy's effects on their finances. Data released this week by Discover Financial Services in its U.S. Spending Monitor for December found that 47% of credit union members surveyed--as well as 47% of nonmembers--said their finances are getting worse. Six months ago, credit union members were five percentage points more optimistic than nonmembers, reported Dow Jones Newswires
which was published in The Wall Street Journal
(Jan. 18). In November, there was nearly a four-point difference between the two groups, with just over 43% of credit union members saying finances are becoming worse, compared with 46.8% of nonmembers. The decline in confidence may indicate a shared pessimism about personal finances and the economy that transcends where consumers choose to bank, Kevin O'Donnell, a Discover executive, told Dow Jones
. He also noted the lower confidence could stem from post-holiday bills and noted credit union members appear to anticipate higher household expenses than nonmember counterparts and are adjusting their spending intentions accordingly. Other findings:
* 56.5% of credit union members surveyed rated the economy "poor", compared with 54.9% in November and compared with 57.2% of nonmembers in December. * 43.7% of members ranked the economy "worse," compared with 44.9% of members saying so in November and compared with 44.3% of nonmembers. * 38.2% of credit union members said they spent more in December than in November. That was an increase from 30.6% saying the same thing in November. Roughly 35.9% on nonmembers said they spent more in December. * When asked how many months they could hold their lifestyle if their income was lost, 22.9% of members and 21% of nonmembers said they could go more than six months, while 28.8% of members and 29.5% of nonmembers said they could go no months.
Confidence ratings overall reached a three-year high in November but slid in December. The survey polls 8,200 consumers, including 2,500 credit union members.