Members 'Muddling Through'

CUNA’s research shows members have a lot of financial worries.

August 8, 2014


The economic recovery appears to be on a positive trajectory. But how do your members feel?

We asked that question as part of CUNA’s 2014-2015 National Member & Nonmember Survey—sponsored by Credit Union Magazine and published exclusively in the August print edition.

The responses might surprise you, especially after hearing the upbeat economic news.

The unemployment rate continues to fall—to 6.1% in June—and businesses have added about 2.4 million new jobs over the past year.

Household net worth is at record levels, too. CUNA economists say we should expect strong economic growth this year and next.

But something seems amiss in members’ households.

The massive job losses that resulted from the Great Recession remain a concern, says Mike Schenk, CUNA’s interim chief economist. Higher-skilled jobs are coming back, but not the less-skilled manufacturing and construction jobs. The loss of these jobs dealt the middle class a severe blow.

Consumers are generally pessimistic, too. Only 41% of Americans believe the economy is getting better, while 53% think it’s getting worse, according to a May 2014 Gallup poll. And a recent CNN Money poll found that 59% of people believe the American Dream is no longer within reach .

Trying times like the Great Recession take a toll on consumers, Schenk says, citing divorce, health issues, and personal financial instability. The middle class is still “muddling through,” he says. For them, the recovery is slow going.

CUNA’s survey shows about 20% of credit union members believe their personal balance sheets are worse off than two years ago. Members’ biggest financial concern is not having enough money for retirement, with 57% of members either “very” or “somewhat” concerned about this issue.

And 52% of members are either “very” or “somewhat” concerned about not having a “rainy day” savings fund. Nearly 40% are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about an adult in their household losing his or her job.

CUNA’s national research gives you insights into members’ personal financial worries, member loyalty, nonmembers’ awareness of credit unions, and overall member demographics.

The results underline the importance of:

Continuing to help members foster good financial habits. They might need your expertise now more than ever.

Using the national research as a benchmark. If you haven’t checked lately, ask your members how they’re doing during this recovery—and then develop ways to help them.

The results of your research will undoubtedly hold a few surprises.

ANN PETERSON is Credit Union Magazine's deputy editor.