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Consumer Pulse Q3 2021

3-dimensional graphs

TransUnion's Q3 2021 US Consumer Pulse Study Released

We’ve just released the latest TransUnion US Consumer Pulse Study — a quarterly survey exploring how consumers’ personal finances have changed and what changes they expect in the future. Here are the key takeaways:  

  • Recovery steady, rising COVID-19 cases a concern: Americans reporting household income negatively impacted by the pandemic leveled off at 30%, a slight improvement from 32% in Q2 2021. However, possibly due to rising cases, households that expect or are unsure if their income will decrease due to COVID-19 in the future rose to 56% from 50% in Q2. While 17% said their discretionary spending increased in the last three months, 39% of Americans expect to curtail discretionary spending (dining out, travel and entertainment) in the next three months. Possibly anticipating future hardship, those who reported saving more in emergency funds in the last three months increased to 29% from 24% in Q2. 
  • Millennials can’t catch a break: In 17 of the 18 TransUnion Consumer Pulse surveys since March 2020, Millennials reported the largest negative household income impact. In Q3, nearly half (46%) said their household income was currently negatively impacted due to the pandemic — the only generation reporting an increase from Q2. Millennials are struggling to pay bills; 42% reported they’ve missed a loan or bill payment in the past three months — the highest percentage among any generation. Looking for help, 25% said they rely “a great deal” on government financial support to get through the pandemic — nearly twice that of Gen Z (13%); more than twice that of Gen X (10%); and more than four times that of Baby Boomers (6%). 
  • Inflation adds to pandemic-related stress: Over half of Americans (55%) reported being extremely or very concerned about the current rate of inflation. Of those, 46% think they’ll cut discretionary spending compared to just 23% of those who are slightly or not at all concerned about inflation. More than 50% of all surveyed reported changing their purchasing behavior because of inflation. Those who are making changes said they’re more likely to apply for credit (35% vs. 21% not changing) and plan to refinance a loan (20% vs. 10% not changing).