The Urban Institute has updated its interactive map that breaks down “Debt in America” to a very granular level. For example, fewer people in Louisiana have a debt in collection than were in that situation two years ago when the data was first released, but that state still leads the nation with 44% of its residents having a debt in collection, compared with 31% for the country as a whole.
Two years ago, 46% of Louisiana residents had a debt in collection.
Following Louisiana’s 44% are Texas (42%), South Carolina (42), and West Virginia (42%). South Dakota is the state with the lowest percentage of individuals who have a debt in collections – 17%.
The interactive map and data break down different kinds of debts — medical debt, student loan debt, credit card debt, and auto loan debt — and allow individuals to access debt data at the county level. For example, in Middlesex County, N.J. (my home county) the average amount of debt that someone has in collections is $880. Sixteen percent of us have a medical debt in collection, 7% have a delinquent student loan debt, and the average amount of credit card debt we carry is $707.
In East Carroll Parish, La., 63% of the county’s residents have a debt in collection — the county with the highest percentage in Louisiana, and the average amount owed is $1,355. Thirty percent have a medical debt in collection and 38% have delinquent student loan debt.
The Urban Institute did note that the percentage of individuals with debts in collection, specifically medical debts, is dropping, but it’s “not going down fast enough,” said Breno Braga, a researcher at the Institute. “The share of consumers with financial distress, despite the fact it’s going down since the Great Recession, is still quite high.”