For the first time, the LegalShield Law Index provides a forward-looking snapshot of the economic and financial status of U.S. households and small businesses. The Index is made up of five indices, including the LegalShield Consumer Financial Stress Index, LegalShield Housing Activity Index, LegalShield Bankruptcy Index, LegalShield Foreclosure Index, and the LegalShield Real Estate Index. Each index relies on LegalShield’s unique and proprietary database of actual member demand for and usage of legal services to predict the health of the U.S. economy.
“The LegalShield Law Index is generated from actual consumer and business demand for various legal services provided by our closed panel of dedicated law firms covering all 50 states,” said James Rosseau, LegalShield’s Chief Commercial Officer. “Each index is a leading economic indicator and is released in a more timely manner than traditional economic indices. Our index predicts economic activity that represent more than 70 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the United States. The LegalShield Law Index provides actionable intelligence about the direction of the U.S. economy in the mid- to near-term,” continued Rosseau.
The key predictive takeaways from the first public release of data, through May 2017, are as follows:
- Consumer confidence may continue to ease in the months ahead, but will likely remain strong by historical standards.
- Housing starts, which have risen at a stubbornly slow pace since 2012 and remain well below pre-recession levels, should continue to improve slowly in the months ahead.
- Bankruptcy filings should remain subdued in the near term. However, elevated levels of household debt are worth keeping an eye on, as they could lead to upward pressure on bankruptcy filings in the future.
- Foreclosures should remain subdued in the short term, but may begin to rise in the second half of the year.
- Existing home sales should continue to improve slowly in the months ahead.
The LegalShield Law Index is made up of five indices that are generated from LegalShield’s proprietary data, which tracks the demand for different types of legal services for the various areas of law over the past 15-plus years. Each time a LegalShield partner law firm receives a request from a LegalShield member, the request is logged as an “intake” within one of roughly 70 unique areas of law (e.g., real estate, criminal, bankruptcy), depending on the nature of the legal need.
“We are excited to share our forward-looking data about the U.S. economy, based on the actual legal needs of our members and the work of our provider law firms—data that covers more than one-and-a-half decades of activity. When our members contact their LegalShield provider law firm, we record the area of law,” explained Rosseau. “In aggregate, our index foreshadows economic activity based on actual legal events in the lives of individuals, families and small businesses.”
The flagship LegalShield Consumer Financial Stress Index tends to lead the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index by one to three months. LegalShield’s May data suggest that the recent run-up in consumer confidence may have overshot economic realities, and that consumer confidence levels may consequently pull back in the months ahead.
“While there are reasons to be optimistic about the U.S. economy, since December there has been a divergence of ‘soft data’ based on consumer and business confidence surveys, and ‘hard data’ based on actual market events, such as demand for legal services,” Jeff Bell, LegalShield CEO, said. “Historically, when the LegalShield Consumer Financial Stress Index drifts away from the Consumer Confidence Index, it is typically consumer confidence that falls back into line with our index, not the other way around. We saw this in 2006 and 2007, when our index provided an early warning signal of the drop-off in confidence at the outset of the Great Recession.”
LegalShield will be releasing the Index monthly, on the sixth business day of each month. Today the company is releasing May data, along with an assessment of what the data suggest about the health and direction of the U.S. economy.
The five separate measures that comprise the LegalShield Law Index together provide a leading indicator of the economic and financial status of American households and small businesses. The indices closely track a handful of key economic indicators, such as the Consumer Confidence Index (developed by the Conference Board), Housing Starts (reported by the U.S. Census Bureau), and Foreclosure Starts (reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association). Each LegalShield index has undergone a battery of statistical tests overseen by a PhD economist to validate its relationship to an existing economic indicator that sheds light on the health and direction of the U.S. economy.
LegalShield’s suite of law indices provides actionable intelligence about the direction of the U.S. economy in the near term. Each index is based on data collected through LegalShield’s provider law firms across all 50 states, thereby offering insights that are not accessible to the general public.
The Index is based on data collected on a near real-time basis, and will be refreshed and released monthly along with forecast statements on each index. The Index is based on intakes among more than 1.6 million memberships (including individuals and small businesses), providing a window into the legal needs of families and businesses across the country at any given point in time.
LegalShield is one of the North America’s leading providers of legal safeguards for individuals, families and small businesses. The company also offers one of the industry’s most affordable and comprehensive identity theft plans, IDShield. LegalShield plans provide protection to more than 4.2 million individuals, and IDShield provides identity monitoring and restoration services to more than one million individuals across North America. In addition, LegalShield and IDShield serve more than 141,000 businesses.
For as little as $20 per month, LegalShield members get access to attorneys with an average of 19 years of experience in areas such as family matters, estate planning, financial and business issues, consumer protection, tax, real estate, benefits disputes and auto/driving issues. Unlike other legal plans or do-it-yourself websites, LegalShield has dedicated law firms in 50 states and four provinces in Canada that members can call for help without having to worry about high hourly rates. For more information, visit http://www.LegalShield.com or http://www.IDShield.com