ADA, Okla. (Dec. 16, 2021) – New data from LegalShield, consumer brand of PPLSI and the leading provider of membership-based legal services and identity theft protection plans, shows that financial stress is returning and affecting younger age groups like Gen Z and Millennials, a troubling trend as many pandemic-related federal support efforts have expired and student loan relief is set to expire early 2022.
Findings from LegalShield’s monthly Economic Stress Index indicate an ever-widening gap between consumer confidence and consumer financial stress; in fact, it’s among the widest divide in LegalShield’s 20+ years of data collection. However, Gen Z and Millennials are seeing the gap close faster than older generations hinting at weakening financial resilience next year. Key data points include the following:
- Overall, requests for assistance for collections-related matters have been flat since January 2020, however, for Gen Z & Millennials, the data shows record high assistance requests.
- The request for these age groups hit a record high in March 2021 and have maintained near the record from August through November 2021.
- Billing disputes, which can serve as a leading indicator of economic stress, hit an all-time high record and has remained elevated throughout 2021 for Gen Z and Millennials with November reporting the highest volume since April.
“Based on these insights, we believe financial stress is returning and affecting the youngest cohorts first, those who are oftentimes the least financially prepared,” said Jeff Bell, CEO of LegalShield. “We understand how Americans are using legal services and the data is showing us continuous elevated activity in billing disputes and collections. This is an indicator of what will manifest in the coming months around consumer finance.”
Additional key findings from the Economic Stress Index include:
- The LegalShield Consumer Stress Index ticked down to the lowest level on record in November. Financial stress remains low thanks to savings amassed over the pandemic and a favorable labor market - even as federal support is expiring. This is backed by data from the Commerce Department reporting that retail sales grew 1.7% M/M in October (beating expectations) while Visa’s Spending Momentum Index rose in October as both discretionary and non-discretionary purchases increased.
- The LegalShield Foreclosure Index edged down in November and remains historically low. While foreclosure activity has increased since the expiration of the foreclosure moratorium, it remains well-below pre-pandemic levels.
- The LegalShield Bankruptcy Index was roughly unchanged at one of the lowest readings in series history. Consumers are in good financial health as they continue to spend savings amassed during the pandemic.
- The LegalShield Housing Construction Index fell again last month after recording its worst-ever decline in October. While builders are struggling with a lack of developed lots, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and high materials cost, sustained demand for homes suggests housing construction should remain healthy for months to come.
- The LegalShield Housing Sales Index fell for the second straight month in November. While low inventories and high prices are slowing home sales, demand is expected to remain elevated.
LegalShield is the #1 provider of subscription-based legal plans and tracks over 2 million requests for legal services annually through LegalShield’s provider law firms in all 50 states. The proprietary data is aggregated to get real-time intelligence on the economic and financial status of U.S. households and small businesses. LegalShield’s Economic Stress Index can identify near-term trends ahead of other indicators with proven accuracy.
A trailblazer in the democratization of affordable access to legal advice, counsel, protection, and representation, LegalShield is the world's largest platform for legal, identity, and reputation management services protecting individuals and businesses across North America. Founded in 1972, LegalShield, and its privacy management company, IDShield, has provided individuals, families, businesses, and employers with tools and services needed to affordably live a just and secure life. Through technology and innovation, LegalShield is disrupting the traditional legal system and transforming how and where people receive legal guidance and services, with access to thousands of qualified, trusted attorneys and law firms. To learn more about LegalShield and IDShield products and services, visit LegalShield.com and IDShield.com.
A champion of equal access to justice and security, PPLSI has provided individuals, families, businesses, and employers with the tools and services needed to live a just and secure life for 49 years. Under PPLSI, our consumer brand, LegalShield, is disrupting the legal services industry by giving everyone the resources and tools to affordably find their justice. We are transforming the traditional way of receiving legal guidance and services and providing qualified, trusted attorneys and law firms in the palm of your hands. Our security brand, IDShield, specializes in privacy and reputation management and protects your online data and information. To learn more about PPLSI and our brands and products that currently improve and empower 4.5 million individuals and 140,000 businesses across North America, visit PPLSI.com, LegalShield.com and IDShield.com.
Hollon Kohtz, Director of Publicity, PPLSI