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Friday, Jan 20 2012 12:00 PM

Market Intelligence: More consumers using plastic for purchases

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

In November, the Federal Reserve reported that revolving credit (comprised mostly of credit card debt) had grown at an annualized rate of 8.5 percent, its highest rate in months, while the savings rate dipped to its lowest point since January 2011. This shift to credit is highlighted by Bank of America's fourth quarter 2011 report showing a 50 percent increase in new credit card accounts, compared to the same period in 2010.

In Kern County, the number of adults with credit or debit cards grew 10 percent and 12 percent respectively, while those with ATM cards dropped 8 percent.

Type of Card...# of Kern adults...% change 2010 vs. 2011

Credit...387, 649...10%

Debit...342,218...12%

ATM...279,922...-8%

Most local credit card users are adults age 35 or older, married, white collar professionals who own their home and earn a household income of $35,000 or more. However, the characteristics of users have changed dramatically, likely due to a sluggish economy and high unemployment rates. Compared to 2010, more adult credit card users are: young, single, female, Hispanic, less affluent, and renters. In addition, a greater percentage are not employed: homemakers up 30 percent, disabled up 91 percent, and unemployed job seekers up 40%

Key characteristics...# of credit card users ....% change 2010 vs. 2011

Men...196,646... 0%

Women...191,003...24%

Age 18-34...133,980...29%

Age 35-54...140,121... 4%

Age 55+...113,548... 1%

Household income

Less than $50,000...202,057...25%

$50,000 or more...185,592...-2%

Hispanic...151,272...25%

Married...245,805... 9%

Never Married... 86,040...17%

Homeowner...268,191... 8%

Renter...103,847...23%

Employed...232,335... 6%

Not employed...155,314...18%

Retired... 58,452... 0%

Homemaker... 33,771...30%

Disabled... 22,225...91%

Unemployed job seeker... 17,778...40%

Source for Kern Data: Scarborough Research 2010-2011, annual surveys of 1,900 Kern adults, The Bakersfield Californian Market Research Department.

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