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Military Families Predict Congress Will Avoid Government Shutdown, First Command Reports

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals 57 percent of servicemembers believe Congress will act before the Dec. 11 deadline

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FORT WORTH, Texas — The majority of career servicemembers and their families are confident lawmakers will reach a budget deal this month that keeps the government running into the new year, according to the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®.

Late November survey results reveal that 57 percent of middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) are confident that Congress will be able to take appropriate action to avoid another government shutdown. The continuing resolution currently funding the federal government is set to expire on Dec. 11, forcing another shutdown if Congress doesn't approve more money.

These survey findings stand in sharp contrast to those of the general population. Just 22 percent are confident that Congress will be able to avoid another shutdown.

Notably, military families are growing more supportive of the nation’s lawmakers. The October survey revealed that 42 percent of military respondents approved of the way Congress is handling its job. That’s up from a year-to-date low of 2 percent in February. The approval rating in the general population was just 4 percent, which is statistically unchanged for the year.

Confidence in Congress was also reflected in survey responses related to the recent midterm elections. In the October survey, about two thirds of military voters identified the defense portion of sequestration as a key campaign issue. They showed a clear preference for Republicans over Democrats (36 percent versus 30 percent), which was consistent with the GOP winning control of the U.S. Senate. And almost half – 47 percent – said they believed Congress will void sequestration before the full return of the automatic budget cuts in 2016.

The current hopefulness of career military families represents a dramatic change in sentiment from a year ago. In a November 2013 survey, just weeks after the 16-day government shutdown in October 2013, only 19 percent of respondents said they were confident that Congress would be able to avoid another shutdown in January 2014. That potential shutdown was successfully averted.

“Our men and women in uniform appear optimistic that members of Congress learned their lesson during the last shutdown and they will do what it takes to settle this issue and keep the government running,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Their optimism is especially noteworthy in light of the overall worry they feel about the subject. Two thirds of survey respondents report feeling some level of anxiety about the possibility of a future shutdown of the federal government. Four out of five are anxious about cuts to defense spending, and more than half are concerned about their job security over the coming months. Congress has a duty and an opportunity to address these critical issues today so our career military can feel confident in their financial security tomorrow.”

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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