The following are key findings from a survey on consumer perceptions of how the subprime mortgage debacle may affect their ability to get a car loan.
- Youths Feel at Risk. Concern increases with younger respondents; 45% of 18-24 year olds are concerned, along with 43% in the age 25-34 group, compared to only 15% in the 65+ age bracket (individuals who are less likely to be seeking credit for a car or other big-ticket item).
- Concern Matches Credit Need. By income, the greatest concern (43%) lies in within the $25,000-$50,000 segment, people with enough income to have an interest in a car loan, but not so much that they don't need the loan.
- Kids Raise the Stakes. Respondents with children in the household — and are more likely to be in the market for a car loan — expressed greater concern (44%) than respondents in households without kids (27%).
- Credit Impact Already Felt. For some of those in the lowest income bracket, this isn't a theoretical question; 12% say their credit has already been affected.
- Genders Share Concerns. Men are marginally more concerned than women — 35% to 32%, but 6% of women and only 2% of men say their credit has already been affected.
- Employment Offers Little Relief. Having a job doesn't significantly diminish these concerns. While 40% of the unemployed say they are “extremely” or “somewhat” concerned, 37% of those employed full-time feel the same way.
- Dixie Worried. The perceived credit squeeze is hitting the South hardest, with 40% expressing concerns, about 10% higher than any other region.
- Marked Racial Divide. The racial disparity is even more pronounced — 52% of nonwhites expressed concern vs. 30% of whites.