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First Command Reports: Career Military Doubt Congress Will Avoid Government Shutdown

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals majority of middle-class military families are not confident that Congress will avoid another government shutdown.

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FORT WORTH, Texas – As the end of the federal government’s fiscal year draws near, the majority of America’s career service members and their families doubt lawmakers will sidestep another government shutdown.

The latest results of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveal that 62 percent of middle-class military families (commissioned officers and senior NCOs in pay grades E-5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) are not confident that Congress will be able to take appropriate action to avoid a shutdown for the new fiscal year starting on Oct. 1.

This high degree of doubt that Congress will dodge another shutdown is similar to that expressed in the August 2013 Index survey, when 87 percent of service members said they were not confident that Congress would evade a then-looming shutdown. Their skepticism in lawmakers proved to be well founded. On Oct. 1, 2013, the federal government entered a 16-day shutdown after lawmakers failed to approve neither legislation appropriating funds for the new fiscal year nor a continuing resolution for interim funding.

The uncertainty expressed today by service members mirrors the view of the broader American Middle Class. Among general population respondents, 64 percent doubt that Congress will avoid a shutdown.

“This lack of confidence that lawmakers will keep the government operating into the new fiscal year is particularly notable in that it comes at a time when key congressional leaders are contending that they will reach a short-term continuing resolution,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Memories of the 2013 shutdown are still fresh, and most Americans are apparently disinclined to take the word of elected officials that they will succeed in keeping the government funded and operating.”

While military and civilian respondents express similar levels of doubt in Congress, anxiety is notably higher among service members. Seventy percent of military families say they feel anxious about the possibility of another shutdown. That compares to 51 percent of the general population.

“The heightened level of anxiety in military families comes at a time when many of our men and women in uniform are worried about how cuts to defense spending and military pay and benefits may affect their family finances,” Spiker said. “Concerns are particularly strong on sequestration, with seven out of ten military families feeling anxious and anticipating being financially impacted by the cuts. We expect high levels of worry over budget cuts and doubts about the effectiveness of lawmakers to continue in the months ahead.”

About First Command Financial Behaviors Index®

Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, Inc., the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® assesses trends among the American public’s financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 530 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. Financial Behaviors Index

About Sentient Decision Science, Inc.

Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile the Financial Behaviors Index®. SDS is a behavioral science and consumer psychology consulting firm with special vertical expertise within the financial services industry. SDS specializes in advanced research methods and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal data.

About First Command

First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Bank and First Command Financial Planning, assist American families in their efforts to build wealth, reduce debt and pursue their lifetime financial goals and dreams—focusing on consumer behavior as the first and most powerful determinant of results. Through knowledgeable advice and coaching of the financial behaviors conducive to success, First Command Financial Advisors have built trustworthy, lasting relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families since 1958.


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