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Poll Reveals Concerns over Unemployment, Debts

By Sally Maison
Published: Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Before Recession hit the country in 2007, credit score seemed to be no more than a term exclusively used in the lending industry. However, now, credit scores and debt levels have become a major concern for millions of Americans, especially for the unemployed. A recent poll reveals that this recession is causing more worries and stress over individuals who have suffered job loss.

In a joint poll by New York Times and CBS, only 24 percent of Americans who are employed said the recession has caused them hardships and changed their lives drastically—way lower than the 49 percent of unemployed Americans who greatly felt the adverse impact of recession on their lives. Forty percent of unemployed individuals who took the poll said they have been out of work for at least six months.

This survey also revealed that a sweeping majority of employed consumers is cutting back on their spending; 41 percent said they are spending less on luxuries, 10 percent on necessities, while 28 percent have reduced their spending on both. On the other hand, 54 percent of unemployed Americans said they have cut back on both luxuries and necessities.

To prepare for the unpredictable year ahead, an independent survey from Edward Jones financial services firm found out that 33 percent, or about one third, of consumers plan to make savings as their top priority in 2010. Thirty percent said paying down debts is their major plan this year. Analysts said that this survey confirms how huge an impact the recession has made on the lives of many. Financial resolutions easily replaced perennial resolutions like losing weight and exercising more, they note.

As far as analysts can see it, unemployment rate is likely to remain above 10 percent this year. However, job losses has not kept Americans from remaining hopeful as they continue to find ways to reduce debts and get them into better financial position in the coming months.

Another separate survey, done by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, shows credit score improvement is the second-most popular New Year’s financial resolution for 2010.
Specialists explained that this effort to improve credit ratings is part of the consumers’ plan to save more. Consumers can get loans with lower interest rates and insurance with cheaper premiums if they add more points to their credit ratings.

They also note that consumers who have recently suffered foreclosure and are now moving in to new apartments work hard for their credit score so they can rent for less. As far as potential homeowners are concerned, they need to have a credit score of at least 620 before their loans are secured by the federal loan buyer Fannie Mae.

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