Special Report

10 States Struggling With Delinquent Debt

4. Mississippi
> Share with debt in collections: 44.7% (tied-3rd highest)
> Avg. debt in collection: $4,413 (8th lowest)
> Median household income: $37,095 (the lowest)
> Poverty rate: 24.2% (the highest)

Financial struggles are a problem for a large number of people in Mississippi, which has routinely had the highest poverty rate in the country. In 2012, 24.2% of state residents lived below the poverty line, by far the highest rate in the U.S. Bad credit can have a variety of consequences, including worsened job prospects, and increased difficulty in securing future loans. Joblessness is a long-running problem for much of the state. In 2013, 8.6% of the workforce was unemployed, among the highest rates in the country. Limited access to financial services was also a problem in Mississippi. More than 15% of households were unbanked as of 2011, far more than in any other state.

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3. Texas
> Share with debt in collections: 44.7% (tied-3rd highest)
> Avg. debt in collection: $5,049 (24th lowest)
> Median household income: $50,740 (24th highest)
> Poverty rate: 17.9% (11th highest)

Financial problems plagued many Texas residents. In 2011, 12.8% of households did not even have a bank account, more than in any state except for Mississippi. Many residents who did need to borrow money were forced to take out high interest payday loans — small dollar, short-term loans for individuals who need cash. A 2013 study from the Pew Charitable Trusts indicated that, in Texas, payday loan customers had to spend an average of 38% of their biweekly gross income on repayments, the second highest percentage in the nation. Residents of the state may struggle with debt due to a lack of financial education. Just 81.4% of the population ages 25 or older had a high school diploma as of 2012, the lowest percentage in America.

2. South Carolina
> Share with debt in collections: 46.2%
> Avg. debt in collection: $5,606 (16th highest)
> Median household income: $43,107 (9th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 18.3% (9th highest)

The proportion of people accessing banking services in South Carolina has fallen in recent years, as the percentage of households without a bank account fell from 10.3% to 9.3% between 2009 and 2011, even as the national rate increased from 7.6% to 8.2%. More South Carolina residents accessed banking services in 2011 than they did in 2009. Residents had an average credit score of just 615, however, the second lowest in the country. Low credit scores may be the result of low median incomes and a high poverty rate, which can make it more difficult to make loan payments. Slightly more than 18% of the population lived below the poverty line at some point in 2012.

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1. Nevada
> Share with debt in collections: 46.9%
> Avg. debt in collection: $7,198 (the highest)
> Median household income: $49,760 (24th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 16.4% (19th highest)

No state had a greater share of residents with debt in collection than Nevada, where almost 47% of residents with credit had non-mortgage debt more than 180 days past due. Additionally, Nevadans with a credit history had more debt in collections than residents in any other state, with an average debt of $7,198. One likely contributor to residents’ debt problems was the poor shape of the local economy. Nevada has suffered from high unemployment for years, and, in 2013, had the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 9.8%. Additionally, per capita personal disposable income dropped by 2.4% in the five years through 2013, not adjusted for inflation. Nevada was the only state in the U.S. to experience such a decline in personal disposable income.