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More Than 1/3 of All Americans are Delinquent on Their Debt?

A study released today by the Urban Institute found that 35 percent of Americans have debt in collections, USA Today reported today. The study, which analyzed the credit files of 7 million Americans, found that Southern states especially stand out with the highest concentration of people delinquent. In 13 states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico and West Virginia — and Washington, D.C., more than 40 percent of the population with a credit file has debt in collections. Nevada, one of the states hardest hit by the housing crisis and recession, has the highest share, at 46.9 percent. The 77 million Americans with debt in collections owe an average of $5,200. That includes debt from credit card bills, child support, medical bills, utility bills, parking tickets or membership fees. Among Americans with credit history, the average total debt load is nearly $54,000, but that number is not as significant as it includes debt from mortgages. Americans with a mortgage have an average overall debt of about $209,000 compared with about $11,600 for those without a mortgage. Twenty percent of Americans with a credit report have no debt.