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Five States Where People Are the Most and the Least Burdened By Debt

Recent data point to how rising debt burdens are distributed across states, based on the debt-to-income ratio in each state.

By Rocio Fabbro, Quartz (TNS)

Most Americans have at least some debt, but it starts to become a problem when the amount of money they owe outgrows their income.

The so-called debt-to-income ratio compares how much someone owes each month to how much they earn. So far this year, the average debt has inched up to $22,713 from $21,800, according to recent survey data from Northwestern Mutual. Two-thirds of respondents said they hold at least some debt, largely due to credit cards, and auto and education loans.

Recent data from the Federal Reserve and an analysis of internet search trends by commercial collection agency The Kaplan Group point to how rising debt burdens are distributed across states, based on the debt-to-income ratio in each state on a monthly basis.

Using Google Trends data, Kaplan found that searches for “debt relief” grew 49% over the past year, suggesting that debt is a growing concern for Americans.

These are the five states that are the most burdened by household debt, and the five that are the least.

Most burdened

1. Hawaii

Hawaii had a debt-to-income ratio of 2.06, meaning households in the state owe, on average, twice as much as they make on a monthly basis. The state is tied for having the largest debts compared to gross monthly income in the country.

2. Idaho

Tied for first with Hawaii was Idaho, which also had a 2.06 debt-to-income ratio, per the Kaplan report.

3. Arizona

Arizona tied with three states for the next-highest debt-to-income ratio in the country, with 1.84, meaning the debt burden in the state was just shy of double people’s gross monthly income.

4. Colorado

Colorado similarly had a 1.84 debt-to-income ratio, according to Kaplan.

5. Nevada

Nevada rounded out the top five states with the highest debt-to-income ratio with 1.84, too. The state also showed high search interest for “debt relief,” according to Kaplan’s analysis of Google search data.

Least burdened

1. New York

New York struggles the least with debt out of all the U.S. states, with a debt-to-income ratio of just 0.4. However, it also had the the most searches for “debt relief,” with an average of 12 searches per month per 100,000 residents, Kaplan’s Google search analysis found.

2. Illinois

The four states with the lowest debt burdens all had a debt-to-income ratio of 1.11, starting with Illinois.

3. Ohio

Ohio shared the bottom four slots with a debt-to-income ratio of 1.11, according to Kaplan.

4. North Dakota

North Dakota’s debt-to-income ratio of 1.11 also put it among the four states with the smallest debt burdens.

5. Iowa

And Iowa rounded out the lowest debt-burdened states with, again, a 1.11 debt-to-income ratio.


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