LegalShield released its 3rd Quarter 2019 LegalShield Index which indicates that consumer finance is at its lowest level in more than a year, consumer confidence will remain elevated and risk for recession is low for the remainder of 2019.
Despite some indications of a slowing economy, the LegalShield Law Index suggests U.S. consumers remain on sound footing. Across all legal services measured, consumer stress is declining, and housing activity is increasing. Overall, LegalShield data suggests the potential for further near-term improvements in housing activity, but a sustained resurgence appears less likely given current economic headwinds facing the industry.
The Index compiles proprietary company data reflecting the demand for various legal services from the LegalShield’s network of qualified law firms across the U.S. on various topics into a suite of leading indicators.
The five indices, which include topics such as foreclosure, consumer financial stress, housing activity, real estate and bankruptcy, were selected because they tend to lead an existing economic indicator that sheds light on the health of the U.S. economy (i.e., target economic indicator). In this way, LegalShield Law Index provides actionable intelligence about the direction of the U.S. economy in the near term.
Highlights from the Five Indices Include:
- The LegalShield Consumer Financial Stress Index (CFSI) improved by 3.3 points in Q3 to 74.0, its strongest reading in more than a year. However, several economic headwinds could negatively affect consumers in the coming months, including a job growth slowdown; wage growth declines as the rate recently fell below 3% for the first time in more than a year; trade tensions; and deteriorating global economic conditions affecting business confidence.
- The LegalShield Housing Activity Index, a leading indicator of housing starts, increased from 113.6 in Q2 to 119.3 in Q3, its highest point since 2005. Housing starts surged 13% to an annualized rate of 1.36 million in August, reaching the highest level of the current business cycle. However, some headwinds persist: residential investment contracted for the sixth consecutive quarter in Q2, and affordability is still a concern.
- The LegalShield Real Estate Index, a leading indicator of existing home sales, signals purchasing activity is unlikely to maintain its 2019 growth trajectory and may plateau in the fourth quarter. The index eased 0.7 points to 102.9 in Q3 after rising sharply last quarter.
- The LegalShield Bankruptcy Index, a forward-looking indicator of bankruptcy filings, indicates bankruptcy activity should remain muted for the next 1-3 months.
- The LegalShield Foreclosure Index indicates continued subdued foreclosure activity over the coming quarter. The index improved 11.2 points to 49.3 in Q3 and is down nearly 14 points compared to a year ago.
A press release and charts summarizing the findings of this quarter’s results can be accessed by clicking here.
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Source: “Consumer Financial Stress at Lowest Level in More Than A Year,” Jeff Bell, CEO of LegalShield, LinkedIn