How is the West Coast Coping as Economic Slowdown Persists?

Contact: Ken McEldowney or Linda Sherry, Consumer Action (415) 777-9648; Diana Don, Capital One (703) 205-1165

Money Wi$e Financial Literacy Program Reveals Research & New Resources

February 21, 2002 -- A nationwide survey* of U.S. residents conducted on behalf of Capital One and Consumer Action's MoneyWi$e program uncovers key insights into the financial behaviors of adults across the nation during this time of economic uncertainty. The MoneyWi$e campaign is designed to provide consumers with the information they need to start developing a plan for spending and saving money.

The following statistics were compiled via interviews with respondents on the West Coast of the country, including California. On the West Coast, for example, more so than in any other region of the country, consumers have emergency funds set aside in case they are laid off (65 percent).

Spenders Tighten Purse Strings and Secure Savings

The West Coast, including California, leads the nation with 62 percent of respondents who report they are spending money more conservatively in 2002 than in 2001, compared to 57 percent nationwide.

Twenty-three percent of respondents nationwide are cutting back on depositing into savings or retirement accounts. Similarly, 24 percent of West Coast respondents are cutting back in this area.

Consumers Cut Back on Leisure Activities

The top areas where Americans are cutting back on spending include purchasing clothes or appliances (78 percent), dining out (75 percent), going on vacations or traveling (73 percent) and spending on entertainment like movies or amusement (65 percent).

The West reflects the nation's sentiments as respondents there report cutting back on purchasing clothes or appliances (81 percent), dining out (76 percent), going on vacations or traveling (72 percent) and spending on entertainment like movies or amusement (66 percent).

Moonlighting Makes More "Cents" than Tapping into Other Resources

Seventy-six percent of respondents from the West Coast say they would take a second job to make ends meet in the face of financial challenge, compared to 66 percent of respondents nationwide and only 59 percent in the South and Central regions of the country.

Eighty-three percent of respondents from the West Coast say they would not tap into retirement accounts to make ends meet in the face of financial challenge, compared to 74 percent nationwide and 67 percent in the Northern part of the country.

Concern for Job Security Prompts Some to Set Aside Savings

On the West Coast, more so than in any other region of the country, consumers have emergency funds set aside in case they get laid off (65 percent); this is followed by the Central region (64 percent), the Northern Region (62 percent), and the South (51 percent).

One in five Americans, nearly 22 percent, feel they could get by for over a year without a job considering the emergency funds they have set aside, compared to 23 percent of West Coast respondents.

About Money Wi$e

The Money Wi$e program offers a series of simple straightforward brochures to address financial responsibility. They are produced in five languages (English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese) and are available to more than 7,000 community organizations nationwide. The materials will be available directly to consumers online at www.consumer-action.org or by sending a self-addressed, legal sized stamped envelope to: Consumer Action Money Wi$e, "Money Management," 717 Market Street, Suite 310, San Francisco, CA 94103. Consumers can find information about local counseling sessions and workshops by calling Consumer Action at (415) 777-9635.

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*Survey of U.S. residents 18 and over conducted by International Communications Research

 

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