The PPLSI Economic Stress Index™
Households and small businesses across the U.S. are each fighting individual battles when it comes to their financial and economic well-being. The PPLSI Economic Stress Index allows us to take a closer look and anticipate the future through unique leading indicators.
Data and insights featured in
As part of our mission to make sure every person has equal access to justice, we mine our data every month for insights policymakers can use to make a real, positive impact on the world. Comprised of five sub-indices which reflect the demand for various legal services over the past 15+ years, the PPLSI Economic Stress Index uncovers the daily challenges people are facing. It also provides actionable intelligence to help policymakers and industry leaders bridge those gaps.Get the latest report
Leading indicators of the U.S. economy
5 trends from our latest data
Consumer stress is rising
The LegalShield Consumer Stress Index increased modestly in April 2022, though it remains near historic lows. Consumer financial health remains strong overall thanks to pandemic-era savings and a strong labor market. However, high inflation remains a primary headwind for household finances, and consumers are adjusting their spending under the pressure.
Bankruptcy remains below historical levels
The LegalShield Bankruptcy Index decreased (improved) 0.1 point to 19.3 in April 2022, still near near an all-time low. Total seasonally adjusted bankruptcy filings fell 5.3% to 28,850 in March 2022 and were down 20% compared to a year ago.
The combination of pandemic-era savings and a strong labor market will likely keep bankruptcies low for the foreseeable future.
Foreclosures increase for fourth consecutive month
The LegalShield Foreclosure Index rose in April 2022 to its highest level since the onset of the pandemic. Foreclosure activity has been gradually normalizing to pre-pandemic trends after the expiration of government support, and it remains well-below historic levels.
Construction activity to slow in coming months
The LegalShield Housing Construction Index fell in April 2022 to its lowest level since June 2020. High demand and a significant backlog of homes waiting to be built have sustained construction activity during the pandemic, but high energy prices, a rapid increase in mortgage rates, and supply chain disruptions have tempered homebuilder optimism. The LegalShield Housing Construction Index fell 5.8 points to 130.7 in April 2022. Housing starts rose slightly in March 2022 to their highest level since the summer of 2006.
Home sales still hot but might cool soon
The LegalShield Housing Sales Index dipped in April 2022, though the measure remains historically elevated. A jump in mortgage rates slowed homebuying, though demand remains elevated among higher-income buyers and investors. Data suggests rising prices and less affordable mortgages will likely weigh on sales on the margins.
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