This morning, Credability.org (the former CCCS of Greater Atlanta), one of the nation’s leading credit counseling agencies, released its CredAbilityConsumer Distress Index for the third quarter of 2010.
Overall, the country received a 64.4 Consumer Distress Index Score. A score under 70 indicate severe consumer financial distress. according to the Index, the U.S. has been in economic distress for the past 9 quarters.
Are you surprised to find out that most of the U.S. is under severe financial stress? It shouldn’t. Not with unemployment running at 9.6 percent, and about 18 percent if you throw in those who are underemployed or who have just thrown up their hands and given up.
What surprised me most about the Index is which states are the most severely stressed: Michigan and Mississippi.
It’s easy to understand why Michigan is in the hole (with a 58.11 Consumer Distress Index Score). The entire state has been walloped by the near collapse of the auto industry.
Mississippi (58.76 Index Score) seems to have suffered tremendously from the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, and perhaps it never really regained its footing after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It’s clear that folks there are suffering too.
The CredAbility Consumer Distress Index also looks at various factors that contribute to a region or state’s financial distress, including employment, housing, credit, household budget, and net worth. When it comes to employment, the entire country (except for New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts) is in extreme consumer distress, with an Index score of 57.3 out of 100. If you look at the net worth Index, nearly the entire country is in the red.
What does this tell us? Everyone wants to be the first to call the end of the Recession, or whatever we’re in now that feels like a Recession. But when you dig into the data, you discover that there’s a lot of financial pain everywhere.
Or, as my colleague Eric Belsky, who runs the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, puts it: There are lots of shades of lousy out there. Are you feeling it? Is someone you know feeling it? Are you worried it’s going to happen to you?
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