It might not rank as the most surprising of news, but a growing number of consumers are worried that they may one day need to take out a debt consolidation loan. A new survey by the Associated Press and GfK reports that 46 percent of consumers are suffering from debt-related stress. Of this number, half say that they are worried about their levels of debt either “a great deal” or “quite a bit.” Again, this isn’t exactly surprising. The national unemployment rate remained near 10 percent as of early June. Home values continue to fall. And many consumers have watched helplessly as their annual incomes have plummeted. Why wouldn’t these consumers worry that they may one day have to resort to a high-interest-rate debt consolidation loan?
A Not-So-Sunny Outlook
According to the survey, only 20 percent of consumers view the economy as being in good shape. That number is low. But it is up a bit. Just last year, only 15 percent of consumers said that the economy was doing well. It’s hard to be excited about today’s economy, though, even if it is in the middle of a recovery. The recovery is simply too sluggish. Not enough new jobs are being created. Homeowners aren’t seeing their residences increase in value. Workers aren’t receiving raises or bonuses. Bosses continue to force unpaid days off on their workers. It’s hard not to be pessimistic today.
Turning To Debt Consolidation
For many consumers, the solution to the difficult economy has been to charge more items than they normally would. This, of course, has caused their debt to rise. It’s true that consumer debt has mostly fallen since the end of last year. But that doesn’t mean that many consumers who are unemployed or underemployed haven’t boosted their debt levels. These consumers may soon be forced to consider debt consolidation. This isn’t a terrible thing; by consolidating their debt, consumers can ease their stress levels. But it’s not an ideal solution, either. Debt consolidation often comes with high interest rates and costly fees. It also harms consumer credit scores.
A Bit of Hope?
There is, thankfully, a bit of hope, too, in the Associated Press GfK survey. According to the numbers, 53 percent of respondents said that they are not overly worried about their debt. These consumers, who don’t have to fret about taking out a debt consolidation loan, are important to the overall health of the national economy. If they are confident enough, they’ll open their wallets and spend. And when consumers start spending freely again, our national economy’s recovery will kick into higher gear. This is something that we’re all hoping for.