Health of Average Household Budget Declines For Six Consecutive Quarters
CredAbility, one of the leading nonprofit credit counseling and education agencies in the United States, today released the CredAbility Consumer Distress Index results for the 2010 fourth quarter. The Index, a quarterly measure that tracks the financial condition of the average U.S. household, found that rising stock prices helped propel growth in consumers’ net worth. But lower scores in three of the index’s other four categories — employment, housing and household budget – drove down the overall index. The health of household budgets declined each quarter in 2010 and is at the lowest level since the first quarter of 2009.
For the quarter ended December 31, 2010, American households scored a 64.3 on the Index’s 100-point scale, down slightly from 64.4 in the third quarter of 2010. For all of 2010, the index showed a small improvement, moving up from a score of 63.9 in 2009’s fourth quarter.
A score below 70 indicates a state of financial distress. The average U.S. consumer has been in financial distress for 10 consecutive quarters, according to the Index. The last time the index was above 70 was in the second quarter of 2008.
According to the index, the 10 states ranked as the most financially distressed account for nearly 33 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. These states include California and Nevada in the West; Michigan and Indiana in the Midwest and Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi in the Southeast.
While U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased 3.2 percent in 2010’s fourth quarter, the CredAbility Consumer Distress Index indicates that the increased economic activity has not yet helped many Americans.
“The increase in the GDP in the fourth quarter and 2010 has not yet translated into improved financial health for many average American families,” said Mark Cole, CredAbility’s chief operating officer and the executive responsible for the CredAbility Consumer Distress Index.
“Improved stock prices have increased the value of 401(k) and other investment accounts in the average U.S. household, but high unemployment continues to stifle income growth, causing many homeowners to miss mortgage payments,” Cole said. “While an increase in consumer spending helped the economy in the fourth quarter, the index showed that an increasing number of people failed to prudently manage their household budgets. This lack of savings could cause financial problems if they need to rely on their savings in the future.”
Based on the index’s data, Cole said that a tale of two different American families is developing in America. “The family with one or two stable jobs is seeing their investments grow again and is beginning to spend more of their household income,” he said. “But families that have lost a job or seen other income sources reduced, and who don’t have enough income to invest, have experienced increased financial distress.
“Unfortunately, millions of families are in the second category. In 2010, approximately 14.8 million people ended the year unemployed, more than 1 million families lost homes to foreclosure and 43.6 million Americans used food stamps to buy groceries.”
For the second straight quarter, Michigan posted the worst score on the Index with a 58.83. To see a detailed explanation of how the Index works and a national map, go to www.CredAbility.org/ConsumerDistressIndex. A link to the Index will also be posted on the CredAbility Twitter account, which can be found at http://twitter.com/CredAbility.
Other highlights from the fourth quarter index include:
Fourth quarter Index data by state:
About the CredAbility Consumer Distress Index
Published quarterly, the CredAbility Consumer Distress Index uses a proprietary methodology that draws upon multiple data sets. Employment, housing, credit, household budget and net worth information is supplemented with data collected by CredAbility, which serves more than 638,000 financially distressed individuals each year.
CredAbility is one of the leading nonprofit credit counseling and education agencies in the United States, serving clients in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, in both English and Spanish. In addition to providing counseling via telephone and internet, CredAbility operates a network of 28 branch offices across the southeast.
Founded in 1964, CredAbility is a family of Consumer Credit Counseling Service agencies that includes CCCS of Greater Atlanta, CCCS of Central Florida and the Florida Gulf Coast, CCCS of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, CCCS of East Tennessee, CCCS of Jackson (Mississippi) and CCCS of Upstate South Carolina.
The nonprofit agency is accredited by the Council on Accreditation and is a member of the Better Business Bureau and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Governed by a community-based board of directors, CredAbility is funded by creditors, clients, individual donors and grants from foundations, businesses and government agencies. Service is provided 24/7 by phone at 800.251.2227 and online at www.CredAbility.org.
CONTACT: Scott Scredon, +1-404-653-8833 office, +1-770-315-0745 cell, Scott.Scredon@CredAbility.org; or John McCosh, +1-404-260-3108 office, +1-404-272-0010 cell, John.McCosh@CredAbility.org
Web Site: http://www.CredAbility.org
Tagged with: Business • Companies • CredAbility Consumer Distress Index • Economy • Employment • Financial distress • Florida • Gross Domestic Product • Household Budget • Indiana • Industry • Jobs • Markets • New Hampshire • North Carolina • South Carolina • Stress • United States
Filed under: Business
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