The Wheels on the Bus Go ‘Round and ‘Round…

"All aboard" for a look at small business and student lending trends

October 24, 2011

It is said the wheels of progress move very slowly, but wheels of all types are instrumental in moving us forward at any speed.

With that in mind, let’s begin this week’s journey of ready-to-roll research! We’ll take a spin through more recession takeaways, fly over some employer trends, chug through some fraudulent facts, and cruise by the latest retail news.

Let’s get a gradual start on a slow boat paddling through murky waters, surrounded by swamp vermin and other perils. That’s right, more discussion of lingering recession woes…

GAO’s “Income Security: Older adults and the 2007-2009 Recession”reveals that those age 55 and older have felt the recession’s impact in big ways:
• Unemployment doubled and remained higher than prerecession rates;
• Household income dropped by 6% for those ages 55 to 64 but increased 5% for those 65 and older; and,
• The percentage of older adults drawing Social Security at age 62 increased during the recession.

Reports from the Foundation Center indicate the recession fun still isn’t done as “Foundation Support Declined in 2009 for Most Major Funding Areas,” but in spite of this, small gains were perceptible in education and public affairs.

One final recession note before arriving dockside is that “The global financial crisis affected microfinance institutions (MFIs) as lending growth was constrained by scarcer borrowing opportunities, while the economic slowdown negatively impacted asset quality and profitability.” This is according to “The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Microfinance and Policy Implications,”by the International Monetary Fund.

Let’s get the kids off to school on the Big Yellow Bus! Things aboard it, as usual, are a mixed bag. Check out “Merit Aid for Undergraduates: Trends from 1995-96 to 2007-08” by IES. One revelation is that in the 2007-08 academic year, 52% of all undergraduates received grant aid.

Continuing with student loans, note that NCES has a study on “The Expansion of Private Loans in Postsecondary Education,” observing, “private loans and credit cards are consumer loans and are very expensive ways of financing your education.”

Trends in High School Drop Out and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972-2009” is another important study. As we observed last week, an education is a critical component in one’s future economic security.

Hop off the bus and board the commuter train for a look at a new study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Displaced Workers by Industry.” The study notes “during the 2007-2009 period, 23% (1.6 million) of all long-tenured displaced workers…were displaced from manufacturing jobs.”

Still en route to work, SBA reports on “Small Business Lending: Second Quarter 2011,” to summarize, “the analysis shows that small business lending continues to have a difficult time emerging from the recession, which results in a much slower pace of economic recovery.”

BLS also reveals in “International Comparisons of Manufacturing Productivity and Unit Labor Costs Trends, 2010”  that “in the majority of countries labor productivity…rose by more than 5%.”

One last stop on the El as we examine “The Basic Economic Security Tables Initiative”  by Wider Opportunities for Women. This interesting study provides various scenarios of families with one or two workers and different combinations of dependents to help discern how much income is required by each version to maintain a middle-class lifestyle.

Look! It’s a speeding getaway car! Must be the Big Bad Guys leaving fraudulent activity in their wake, to include “Medicaid Fraud Control Units” a state-by-state analysis of statistical data for 2010, and FinCEN’s” SAR Activity Review” which discovered that “financial institutions primarily identified suspicious activity involving accounts held by individuals rather than businesses or other financial institutions.”

Wheel around your grocery cart and toss in Nielsen’s “The Future of Retailing—Flexible Formats”  where you will see mobile is the way to go. Also get “Stock up or Quick Trip: How Consumers Around the World Shop.”

What would a weary traveler writing from the cold north do without a snowplow ride to examine one final intriguing bit of news? “This is Your Portfolio on Winter: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Risk Aversion in Financial Decision Making.”

This enlightening paper reveals that those suffering from seasonal affective disorder have much stronger financial risk aversion during the winter months than those without the malady. Anyone got a light?

 LORA KLOTH is a research librarian in CUNA's business-to-business publishing department.