It would be nice to report some good news about the economy, but at least according to one organization that counsels folks on their finances, the news isn't getting any better.
The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA) reports that its members have seen about a 20% rise in demand for their services over the past 18 months. This year alone, demand is up 13%.
That said, the Fairfax, Va.-based organization says the ability of its members to help these people with debt management plans has actually decreased because a greater number of people coming to see them are in worse financial shape than before. In 2009, AICCCA members were able to help roughly 19% of people seeking their assistance. This year, that rate is projected to dip to about 12%.
AICCCA president Dave Jones cites several reasons. First, the housing market remains a issue due to foreclosure problems and difficulty in obtaining home equity loans. Second, unemployment remains stubbornly high. And, generally speaking, some people are waiting too long to seek help.
"If they wait too long there's nothing we can do," Jones says. "If they get behind more than 120 days on their bills, their creditors don't want to talk to them."
Jones says one of the disturbing trends is the growing number of people willing to walk away from home mortgages and car loans.
"A lot of people don't care anymore and say 'let people sue us, what are they going to get,'" Jones says. "There's an irresponsibility that's becoming more prevalent in this economy, which is very unhealthy."