Sep 12 2014

2014 Consumer Sentiment: Risk Aversion and Household Inequality


The recovery is here but not here. Consumer sentiment, as measured by spending, investing, and borrowing intentions, is an important indicator, especially when growth is lumpy, spread unevenly by region or industry. Feelings of confidence beget investments and risk taking. More importantly for credit unions, confidence leads to member borrowing—for homes, for cars, for the future.

Filene partnered with Absolute Strategy Research (ASR) to analyze and publish an overview of consumer sentiment, especially as it relates to key behaviors like saving, borrowing, and housing. ASR has conducted a proprietary Survey of Household Finances for more than four years. The survey of 1,000 adults aged 25–65 was carried out by leading market research company Taylor Nelson Sofres in early 2014. We believe the survey provides a unique and timely snapshot of US household behavior.

Here are some noteworthy insights from the survey: 

  • Even after five years of US gross domestic product growth above 2%, 36% of respondents think the economy is in a recession or a depression 
  • Respondents are shying away from debt: 54% plan to decrease their debt level over the coming year
  • Respondents are less worried about their financial situation now than they were a few years ago
  • 78% of respondents think economic policymakers are doing a bad job 
  • The net balance of respondents who feel that their job is secure has risen to its highest level in two and a half years
Report Number 339