News & Press: The Pulse Newsletter

CUNA Mutual Group Survey Finds Americans Fear a Looming Recession

Monday, July 22, 2019  
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Middle-class Americans are less optimistic about their ability to achieve upward mobility than they were six months ago, according to new data from CUNA Mutual Group, the leading provider of lending, insurance, investment, and financial technology solutions for credit unions. 
 
When CUNA Mutual Group first polled the middle class in fall 2018, survey respondents gave themselves a “B minus” grade when asked to evaluate their prospects for achieving the “American Dream.” Amid increasingly uncertain economic conditions, however, that grade has dropped to a “C”. 
 
A potential driver of this anxiety is fear the other shoe will drop after several years of strong economic growth, with close to 50 percent of respondents expressing worry the U.S. will enter a recession in the next year. 
 
However, when thinking about their personal economic position, the majority of respondents feel relatively stable, with 61 percent saying they are somewhat to very confident, and 88 percent saying they feel their job is somewhat or very secure over the next year. That said, the middle class could be doing better – of the respondents who say they are confident in their personal economic position, two-thirds are only “somewhat” confident, meaning they can comfortably pay their bills, but want to save more in the long run. 
 
“The middle class is mired in uncertainty. We’re seeing stagnating job growth, limited wage growth and increasing market volatility attributable to headwinds from tariffs and unfinished trade negotiations,” said Steve Rick, chief economist, CUNA Mutual Group. “This should be a wake-up call to families to start shoring up their finances now, whether that takes the form of cutting spending, reassessing their savings to avoid having to cut into their retirement to stay afloat, or even refinancing a mortgage if that’ll put them in a better position. If there’s one thing 2008 taught us, it’s that you can’t afford to be caught on your heels if a recession hits.” 
 
On the positive side, survey respondents are aware of their economic vulnerabilities. In the event of a recession, they say they would decrease discretionary spending (53 percent) and make lifestyle changes (52 percent). 
 
These findings are from a CUNA Mutual Group survey assessing 1,288 U.S. adults ages 18 or older and making an annual income of $35,000 to less than $100,000. The survey was fielded in May 2019. 
 
About CUNA Mutual Group 

CUNA Mutual group is a financially strong insurance and financial services company enabling people to make financial decisions that work for them. The company was built on the principle of “people helping people” and the belief that a brighter financial future should be accessible to everyone. For more information, visit www.cunamutual.com. 


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