While the U.S. established its reputation as a melting pot centuries ago, the nation is more diverse today than ever before.
And with this mélange emerges credit unions’ latest challenge: reaching and engaging a more diverse populace, according to CUNA’s 2012-2013 Credit Union Environmental Scan.
The most significant demographic trends influencing credit unions:
►Baby boomers retire. The U.S. population is aging, and the first boomers reached their 65th birthdays in 2011;
►Gen X and Gen Y move into adulthood. These folks represent your “peak” and “future” borrowers, respectively, and most of them don’t know very much about credit unions;
►The changing American family. Women are gaining financial clout, and the number of unmarried couples, same-sex couples, and multigenerational households are growing; and
►Increasing numbers of Hispanics, largely due to higher birth rates.
In addition to ethnic changes, the U.S. is also undergoing dramatic social change. The traditional “family” is a thing of the past. Credit unions need to adapt their products, services, and marketing materials to stay current with social changes.
Some key social changes:
►Fewer traditional households. Only 48% of U.S. households were headed by a married man and woman in 2010, compared to 78% in 1950, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. And only 20% of U.S. households contain married couples with children, down from 43% in 1950.
Homosexuality is increasingly accepted in the U.S. Six states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriages, and several others have legalized civil unions or domestic partnerships.
And more mothers are raising their children alone. About 40% of children are born today to single mothers, according to The Wall Street Journal. Men and women are marrying later, or not at all. The average age to marry for a man is 28 and 26 for a woman in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center.
►More multigenerational households. Job loss and home foreclosures have led many adults to move in with their parents.
In 2009, the recession caused about 12.5% of young consumers age 22 to 29 to move back into their parents’ homes after living on their own. And 37% of those age 18 to 29 are either unemployed or out of the workforce—the highest percentage among this age group in almost 40 years, according to the Pew Research Center.
Also creating more multigenerational households was the dramatic growth in minority households. Asians (25%), African-Americans (23%), and Hispanics (22%) are significantly more likely to live in multigenerational household than whites (13%), Pew reports.
►The advancement of women. Despite a set-back from the recession, women make up 49% of the workforce and 59% of low-wage workers, according to The New York Times. Families are increasingly dependent on women for their well-being. Today, 40% of mothers are the primary breadwinners in their households.
Women also own 7.7 million of the nation’s 27 million small businesses—up 20% from 2002, Forbes reports. Plus, women-owned businesses are expected to create one-third of new jobs by 2018.
Women will likely continue on their forward trajectory in the workforce thanks to emerging technology, says an Intuit report. New developments in mobile and Internet technologies will allow women to run businesses remotely.
Serving the changing American landscape will require credit unions to be technologically agile and adept in the use of social media platforms.