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A Third of US Is on Debt Collectors' Books
Average amount owed: $5K
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jul 29, 2014 7:00 AM CDT
More than a third of Americans with credit scores have debt in collections.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(Newser) – More than a third of Americans with credit scores have debt "in collections"—meaning one in three of us has been reported to collection agencies, a study finds. That's a total of 77 million people whose non-mortgage debt is significantly overdue, the Urban Institute notes. The study includes debts ranging from credit card and medical bills to parking tickets, CNNMoney notes. And the widespread issue "can tip employers' hiring decisions, or whether or not you get that apartment," an analyst tells the AP.

The average debt is $5,178, the AP notes. The problem exists all over the country, but Southern and Western states are facing the most trouble. Among the report's findings:

  • Nevada has the highest percentage of people with debt in collections: 47%. In Las Vegas, the figure is 49%. North Dakota has the lowest at 19%, CNNMoney reports.
  • The average amount owed is also highest in Nevada at $7,198. Washington, DC, has the lowest figure at $3,547.
  • At 51%, McAllen, Texas, has the highest percentage of affected people among the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas. At least 43% of people in Houston, Dallas, El Paso, and San Antonio have debt in collections. Minneapolis-St. Paul has the lowest percentage among the 100 biggest metropolitan areas, with 20%.
The complete study is here.

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Jul 30, 2014 2:47 PM CDT
"More than a third of Americans...." are also just following their government's example. They will just borrow more to pay the first debt then borrow on that to pay their second debt, etc. all the while owing more and more interest and not being able to catch up. With our country, China is the "collection agency" and it is only a matter of time until they come a knocking. Americans have that "instant" satisfaction disease and have been taught "buy now, pay later". Ugh.
Chris Farley
Jul 30, 2014 12:48 PM CDT
But the times just said the economy is booming.
Jul 30, 2014 11:44 AM CDT
There's a certain awful symmetry to it, isn't there? The national debt is out of control, with China holding the paper, and the American consumer is awash in debt, with the banks holding the paper. The common thread? No self control!