Encore Capital Survey Details Negative Financial Outlook for Consumers

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned more Americans pessimistic about their financial futures, while more than one-quarter of consumers feel their financial situations are worse now than they were about a year ago, according to a report released by Encore Capital Group, which surveyed its customers both here in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

More than one-third of Americans had a negative view of their financial futures in August 2021, compared with 25% who felt that way before the pandemic started, according to the results. Those figures are even worse for Americans who identified themselves as being in the lower-earning income brackets, which included anyone earning less than $50,000 per year.

About 27% of respondents said their financial situations are worse now than they were in August 2020, compared with 39% who said their situations were about the same, and 35% who feel they are in a better financial place now than they were 16 months ago.

While looking back made the respondents feel negative about the state of their finances, looking forward didn’t make them feel much better. Nearly half of the respondents had a negative view toward the future of the economy in August, compared with 32% prior to the pandemic.

The pandemic has also loaded more individuals in the United States with debt, according to the survey. Exactly half of the respondents said they had more past-due debt now than they did prior to the pandemic, while only 21% said they had less.

Credit cards are causing the most strain on consumers’ finances, followed by medical bills, and then phone and utility bills. One interesting outlier — for low-income Americans, medical debt was causing more stress than credit cards.

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