Written By: Mathieu R. Despard, Yingying Zeng, Sophia Fox-Dichter, Ellen Frank-Miller, and Michal Grinstein-Weiss
Financial counseling has been found to be effective in improving consumers’ credit outcomes and could be expanded through the workplace to reach lower-income workers who struggle with various financial challenges. We examine engagement and credit outcomes associated with a workplace financial counseling program offered to 2,849 front-line workers in New York City. Age and credit scores helped explain variation in types of engagement in services. Credit outcomes were modest on average, but greater among workers who received three or more counseling sessions, had low and no baseline credit scores, and reduced the number of delinquent and collections accounts on their credit reports. Workplace financial counseling is a promising strategy to proactively promote credit outcomes among frontline workers, though counselors should be flexible in offering services and help workers access affordable credit products available to those with subprime credit scores and increase financial slack to lessen dependence on credit.