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Study says almost 35% of Americans in debt collections

Study says almost 35% of Americans in debt collections

By Joyce Lupiani. CREATED Jul 29, 2014

According to a new report, 34 percent of Americans have debt currently in collections.

A study by the Urbane Institute analyzed the credit files of seven million Americans, according to USA Today.

If a debt is in collection, it typically means that a bill has not been paid for at least 180 days. It also means that the debit has been reported to various credit bureaus.

The national average debt is $53,850.

More than 40 percent of the population in 13 states has a credit file in collections. Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico and West Virginia. Nevada has the highest share at 46.9 percent. Washington, D.C., also belongs on that list.


The debt includes credit card bills, child support, medical bills, utility bills, parking tickets and membership fees.

Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute calls the numbers "pretty disheartening." He says it is a "powerful" reminder that many Americans are still struggling to recover from the recession.

The state of Hawaii tops the list of highest individual debt at $83,810. Eighty percent of that is held in mortgages, and research indicates that mortgages makes up 70 percent of the average debt. West and East Coast states, which have the highest housing prices, aren't far behind Hawaii.

Mortgage debt isn't necessarily a bad thing though. A person with $400,000 mortgage, but no other debt, could still be in much better financial shape than someone with no mortgage and $10,000 personal debt.


Joyce Lupiani

Joyce Lupiani

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Joyce Lupiani, who is based in Las Vegas at KTNV-TV Channel 13, is a contributor to