Massachusetts residents swimming in debt

People who live in the Boston, Massachusetts area have plenty of debt — on average, about $24,670 — but that pales in comparison to some other parts of America.

This news comes from the Experian credit rating agency, which reviewed relative debt levels in twenty large metropolitan areas. Seattle residents accumulated the most debts, averaging $26,646 per resident.

One thing about this study that struck me is the relative absence of the locations with the highest bankruptcy levels from the top of the list. Las Vegas, southern California, Florida and Arizona have been belted with waves of foreclosures and bankruptcies, but Seattle and number-two Dallas have not been hit quite so hard.

A possible disconnect between debt levels and bankruptcies could indicate that the high rate of personal bankrupcy we have seen lately is more a result of foreclosures and related real estate bust issues than just general overspending.

But rising debt levels not connected with foreclosure do take a toll as well:

“Rising debt levels do not surprise Alliea Groupp, a volunteer at the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, which has campaigned for banks to limit how much credit card interest they charge. Groupp said she racked up $20,000 in debt because of a medical emergency that was not fully covered by insurance. She said she knows people who are struggling to pay off debt because many banks raised credit card interest rates steeply, without warning, this year.

“Unfortunately, this does not surprise me,’’ Groupp said of the Experian research. “If a person loses their job or gets their hours cut, they still have to put food on the table.’’


By Doug Beaton

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