LegalShield today released its March Economic Stress Index, a suite of leading indicators of the economic and financial status of U.S. households and small businesses. Consumer stress, a primary sub-index, remains well below year-ago levels, and continues to hover at an all-time low in the index’s 16-year database. Meanwhile, the company’s housing sales index edged up positively in March and remains elevated by historical standards. This data indicates that existing home sales should remain healthy over the next three to six months, though rising interest rates are beginning to weigh on sales activity.
The LegalShield Economic Stress Index™ comprises five sub-indices – Consumer Stress, Bankruptcy, Foreclosures, Housing Construction and Sales – constructed from the company’s proprietary data, which reflect demand for various legal services over the past 16 years. Each time a provider law firm, in all 50 states, receives a member request, the request is logged as an "intake" in one of roughly 70 unique areas of law (e.g. real estate, LLC formation, etc.). The company on average receives 160,000 intakes per month from its 1.8 million memberships, including individuals and small businesses, a statistically meaningful sample. March 2021 saw the largest number of legal service requests in a decade, suggesting that the effectiveness of LegalShield’s expanded (2021) online services will continue to grow.
"The way people obtain goods and services has changed drastically over the last year, and many businesses endured severe growing pains in an attempt to keep up, and keep their doors open," said Jeff Bell, LegalShield CEO. "LegalShield’s existing technical platforms for service delivery, highly-trained Member Services Team, and experienced provider attorney network enabled us to respond swiftly and satisfactorily to the surge in demand throughout all phases of the pandemic, and we’ll continue to do so as the world reopens and people get back on their feet."
Underscoring the Consumer Stress Index’s low March level were sizable increases in service requests for these areas of law:
Traffic matters saw a 23% month-over-month increase, as members got back on the road, commuting to work, and traveling for pleasure.
Small business legal services were at their highest level since 2007 as Main Street and home-based entrepreneurs sought help to form LLCs, establish trademarks, obtain patents, and explore franchises and other types of contracts. Small business legal services increased by 21% month-over month and nearly 50% year-over-year.
Real estate-related requests were the highest since early 2017, as members bought and sold property, and refinanced their existing mortgages. These requests increased more than 23% month-over-month, and 43% year-over-year. (Note: LegalShield’s real estate data is seasonally adjusted to sync with the annual real estate transaction cycle.)
Consumer finance legal services increased nearly 22% month-over-month, and 26% year-over-year increase as members dealt with matters related to insurance, taxes, banking, vehicle financing and loan modifications.
Keybridge LLC, a boutique economic and public policy consulting firm based in Washington D.C., is responsible for independently compiling and analyzing the LegalShield data and developing the accompanying economic narrative. A PDF of LegalShield’s full March Economic Stress Index can be downloaded here: https://www.legalshield.com/economic-stress-index
About LegalShield and IDShield
A trailblazer in the democratization of affordable access to legal protection, LegalShield is the world's largest platform for legal, identity, and reputation management services covering more than 4.4 million people. Its IDShield identity theft solution for individuals and families has more than one million members. LegalShield and IDShield serve more than 140,000 businesses. In addition, over 34,000 companies offer LegalShield and IDShield plans to their employees as voluntary benefits. Both legal and identity theft plans start for less than $25 per month. For more information about LegalShield, visit: https://www.legalshield.com or for more information about IDShield, visit: https://www.idshield.com/.
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