CHICAGO, March 10, 2009 – The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics just announced that 651,000 jobs were lost in February, bringing the national unemployment rate to its highest in 24 years. Across the country, people are looking for ways to withstand the ongoing economic storm. According to a new TrueCredit.com survey, conducted by Zogby International, one in four Americans (25%) are worried about losing their jobs in 2009, so there is no better time for consumers to batten down their financial hatches to prepare for unexpected unemployment.
“For consumers, part of weathering this storm will be ensuring that they have the proper financial umbrella,” said Lucy Duni, vice president of consumer education at TrueCredit.com by TransUnion. “There is no better time for consumers to make sure their finances in order, work on paying down debt and manage their budgets to be prepared for the possibility of losing their source of income.”
With so many highly qualified people in the job market, competition for available openings is intense, and job candidates need to set themselves apart in every way possible. Just like lenders, employers are the ultimate decision makers in the hiring process, and many are choosing to screen candidates more closely by utilizing background and credit checks. TrueCredit.com’s survey revealed that nearly one in six human resources decision makers (16%) say their company uses a pre-employment credit report as part of the screening process for potential employees.
In addition to polishing their resumes and portfolios, job seekers should make sure their financial reputation reflects their desirability as a potential employee. TrueCredit.com is offering the following tips to help consumers prepare for the worst:
- Drop the Shopping Habit – With unemployment rates skyrocketing, it’s time to take a hard look at your budget. Even if you aren’t worried about losing your job, it will only help you to rein in excessive spending and stick to a strict budget well within your means to ensure you have a safety net if something happens to your income.
- Stash Some Cash – In the past, having enough to cover three-to-six months of expenses was considered adequate, but today, aim to stash enough to maintain living expenses for no less than six months. If you do lose your job, your savings will allow you to continue making your payments, and will help you avoid missing payments altogether.
- Live Within Your Means – In addition to saving, you should make paying down debt a priority while you have cash coming in. The more you can pay now, the less you will be charged in interest later. And the lower the balances you keep on credit cards the better, so shoot for carrying balances that are less than 35 percent of a card’s limit.
- Don’t Be Late – One of the most important contributors to a strong credit history is paying bills on time. Regardless of your employment status, you should try to pay at least the minimum amount due on time each month.
- Limit New Credit – Use restraint when applying for credit, as multiple applications over a brief period of time can negatively impact your credit score. In these tough economic times, you don’t want to appear desperate to lenders or potential employers.
- Know What Employers Are Seeing – Monitor your credit reports to keep tabs on your credit history. If you lose your current job and need to seek new employment, your credit report is one of the factors that potential employers might check.
For the full survey results, and to learn more about managing your finances, log onto www.gotruecredit.com and visit the learning center.
Survey Methodology (Consumer)
Zogby International was commissioned by TrueCredit.com to conduct an online survey of 2,889 adults. A sampling of Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the U.S., was invited to participate from 1/14/09 to 1/16/09. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, gender, education to more accurately reflect the population. The margin of error is +/- 1.9 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.
Survey Methodology (HR)
Zogby International was commissioned by TrueCredit.com to conduct an online survey of 214 Human Resources Decision makers. A sampling of Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the US, was invited to participate from 03/05/09 thru 03/06/09.The margin of error is +/- 6.8 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.
Since 1999, TrueCredit.com has helped millions of consumers manage their own credit health. Through a suite of educational materials, free monthly newsletters and easy-to-use products, the company helps consumers understand personal credit management and empowers them to achieve greater financial well-being. TrueCredit.com’s online products include credit reports, credit and insurance scores, credit monitoring, debt management tools and identity theft insurance services. TrueCredit.com is the direct-to-consumer arm of Chicago-based TransUnion Interactive, a subsidiary of TransUnion, a global leader in credit and information management. Manage your credit. Manage your life.SM www.gotruecredit.com
Editor’s Note: for more information or to schedule an interview, contact Aimee Eichelberger, CKPR at 312.568.7324 (email@example.com).