U.S. consumers still in financial distress but improving; Georgia lags behind

The financial picture for households in Georgia and across the country improved in 2011’s first quarter, as employment levels rose and consumers managed their budgets better, according to a study released Thursday by an Atlanta-based credit counseling agency.

Still, Georgia posted the second worst score on the Consumer Distress Index compiled by CredAbility, a nonprofit that helps consumers nationally with their debt problems.

And families across the U.S. remain in financial distress, according to the index.

The index is a quarterly measure that tracks the financial condition of the average U.S. household. It measures five categories — employment, housing, credit, how families manage household budgets and net worth.

A score below 70 indicates a state of financial distress on the index’s 100-point scale.

Among individual states, Nevada had the lowest score at 60.78 — up from 59.47 in the fourth quarter and 58.27 a year ago, according to the index.

Georgia consumers posted the next lowest score at 62.98 — up from 62.7 in the fourth quarter and 62.18 a year ago.

Both states continue to suffer from severe unemployment and housing problems, CredAbility said in a news release.

U.S. households scored a 68.15 on the index — up from 67.16 in the fourth quarter of 2010 and 65.62 a year ago. This year’s first quarter score was the highest one since the financial crisis intensified in 2008’s third quarter.

While the nation remains in financial distress –- scoring under 70 for the 10th consecutive quarter –- the 68.15 score reflects an increase in full-time and part-time jobs, a smarter use of credit and better management of household budgets, CredAbility said.

On the negative side, the score dropped in the housing category, reflecting minimal improvements in mortgage delinquency rates and rising vacancy rates in apartments and other rental housing, CredAbility said.

States with the most consumer distress

1. Nevada

2. Georgia

3. Michigan

4. Florida

5. Arizona

States with the least consumer distress

1. North Dakota

2. South Dakota

3. Wyoming

4. Nebraska

5. Alaska

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

59 comments Add your comment

Double D

May 19th, 2011
6:16 am

Yep, this is why we moved out of GA. last year. Atlanta is a sinking ship. Had we not left when we did I am certain we would have been homeless by now. Bottom line, Atlanta is not going to recover for years, if ever, move to a state that has jobs. Texas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and even parts of Florida like Tallahassee, there are plenty of jobs in these areas. We ditched and found a job the very first day we moved. There are jobs, but not in the ATL where there are 7 million people competing for the same job.

Tax rates not part of index

May 19th, 2011
6:44 am

As a Georgia legislator, I can assure you that our state is doin’ just fine, thank you very much. And mesuring the financial condition of our citizens without taking in to account our fantastic tax rates just isn’t fair. Everyone knows that low taxes makes people more financially secure.

It doesn’t matter that the low tax rates mean we have to cut education programs. Being book smart doesn’t necessarily result in a fat pocketbook. I’m a prime example of that. Heck, I was a middlin student but now look at me, I’ve got lobbyists throwing money, diners, and free trips my way. Sweeter than tea.

John Black

May 19th, 2011
6:47 am

BearClaw 2012

Mike Jones

May 19th, 2011
6:49 am

How’s that “Hope and Change” working out for you folks.

Mike Jones

May 19th, 2011
6:52 am

Georgia’s economy has shrunk by 20% in the past 3 years, but the state of Ga. has not laid off 20% of their employee’s have they? Eventually, this will catch up with them.

Shudow7071

May 19th, 2011
6:56 am

#2…..we try harder!

concernedcitizen

May 19th, 2011
7:03 am

Enter your comments here

Bradley

May 19th, 2011
7:04 am

Youre right Mike, how is that hope and change being that most of these economic problems are a result of local leadership, and being that this is the reddest of all red states you might want to look at your guys as to why things arent improving. To those that say Atlanta is a sinking ship, its doing a heck of a lot better than other major cities, especially in the Southeast. Charlotte for example is in a world of trouble right now, and the only reason they dont talk about it is because they are busy trying to distract everyone with the NASCAR HOF and the DNC convention.

concernedcitizen

May 19th, 2011
7:07 am

numbers don’t lie but liars do…especially the ones who see the glass half full… always.

Suni

May 19th, 2011
7:15 am

NO Georgia is Certainly Not “doin’ just fine”!!! And YES Taxes ARE a part of that Problem!!! Real Estate Taxes Alone are more than triple what they should be vs Actual Values of property in this Economy. And Georgia continues to rake in far more than it’s just due from Homeowners, while tons of Appeals to this action sit dormant and unheard or resolved for more than a year now, while the People of this State continue to starve and struggle to pay the Government just to keep their Homes that They worked and are paying for. Foreclosures are Still on the rise-HELLO! There is a High Tax on Everything in this State!!! Even on a Vehicle a person Paid the Sales Tax on, is still making payments on, and then Each Year an Ad Valorem Tax is assessed on that Vehicle (for the current Value of it) and added to the Tag Fee. Just for a Little input about Taxes here. Jobs are few, wages are low. AND THEN we have Government Employee’s that have money to Throw Around for “dinners and free trips” and other such luxuries that Most of us here cannot even think of affording? With the Taxes, Laws, and Greed of the Government here, it’s Amazing anyone Can Live Here At All!

To the Legislator; Maybe you could do your JOB and Help the People Here, instead of going to dinners and on costly Trips? “It doesn’t matter that we have to cut Education”? And YOU are “a prime example of that”? Someone who cannot even spell *Dinner*? .

Pasturized Nurse

May 19th, 2011
7:18 am

I heard a news story on NPR a couple of weeks ago which confirmed what I had already suspected: NO industry (except maybe the ARM industry) has been immune from the ravages of this recession…and that includes healthcare. People who were told to go to nursing school because they would be “guaranteed” a job after graduation are finding out otherwise because health care providers have also been downsizing. And, those who are hiring are either demanding X-amount of years of related experience or are choosing to hire paraprofessionals to fill the same jobs which used to be the exclusive territory of RN’s. I have been an R.N. for almost three decades, out of work for two and cannot find a job anywhere. Why? I am either told I am “overqualified” or “underqualified” or have the “right” experience…but have been disqualified by a potential employer because I have been not been working in that related area of nursing “too long” after practicing it for years and years before I was laid off. NPR went on to say that it
may be “years” before there is another “nursing shortage”. By the time (IF and WHEN) this ever happens, I will be eligible for social security…which seems to be my only hope at this point as far as keeping the “wolf” away from the door goes.

Mike

May 19th, 2011
7:30 am

Suni you are an idiot. That post was making fun of politicians. The typos were on purpose. Did you write that yourself or are you really that dense that you did not see it?

Dixie Lot Lizard

May 19th, 2011
7:40 am

My wife and I sell real estate and are self employed. The first part of this year was horrific, but things seem to be picking up now as we have 6 deals set to close by the end if June. Until the housing mess gets straightened out, I predict the unemployment rate won’t go below 8.5%. And the taxes are horrible in GA. The state govt. Is bloated and the insurance and pensions for those employees and their families will sink this state. The city of Atlanta is well on its’ way. $.20 of every dollar goes to fund their pensions. What a joke.

Chris

May 19th, 2011
7:50 am

I am getting out of GA this year myself. I got an opportunity to transfer to another state with my job. Housing prices in Atlanta are in the toilet and going lower, but the taxes go up. Add to that the horrible traffic and the stench of Atlanta I am so ready to be enjoying the coastal breezes in a nearby state with lower taxes and no where near the crime and traffic. The fact that I am getting out makes up for the loss we are taking on the house, in other words, quality of like is going up so I do not mind paying for it.

livinthegoodlife

May 19th, 2011
7:53 am

I have no idea what you people are talking about. I moved down here last July and in three weeks I had a two offers for a 50k a year job (for 25 that isn’t bad) , and have since been offered TWO more in which I have turned down. Take some personal responsiblity for yourselves. Get an education, get our of debt and quit whining. I have had nothing but success in Atlanta!!! Then again, I don’t try and buy a 90k Range Rover and a 600k house on that kind of salary. I see this all of the time in Buckhead where I live. There are soooo many houses being foreclosed on because people live wayyyy beyond their means and it caught up with them. Actually, a buddy of mine just lost his BMW the other day to repo…. Very sad, but his fault!!!

A.S.Mathew

May 19th, 2011
7:55 am

About 14.2% of the U.S. population is on food stamp. It was 33 million
in 2009. Now 44.2 million people out of the total population of 309
million in food stamp. In the south 20% of the people on food stamp, whereas in the north 15%.

After the great Olympic, thousands of families moved to Atlanta, and now
Atlanta, as a mega city is being faced with greater financial crisis.
More banks went under in Georgia than any other state in the nation.
All small business people are in deep trouble, and even the secured
jobs in the medical field is feeling the pressure of less hours. Less accidents in the highway due to the poor traffic, which is an indirect blessing from God. Even the funeral homes are hit with depression. All
these positive datas are simply to create positive thinking in the
minds of the depressed customers to spend their money. In reality,
we are in a very sad financial crisis without seeing any light at the
end of the tunnel. I am living in the U.S. for the last 40 years (came from another country) and I have never felt such a terrible feeling of
hopelessness any time in this great nation. The flood, tornado and other natural calamities are making the situation far worse every day.
I am a positive thinker, but simply telling the current reality of life.

blacksheep

May 19th, 2011
7:56 am

@Suni: um, I believe that was an attempt at satire. And a not-so-subtle one at that. Boy, our education system in doing a great job, huh?

no sinking ship

May 19th, 2011
7:57 am

Atlanta may not be doing well, but it is by no means a ’sinking ship’. As a Clevelander, I can tell you Cleveland,Detroit, Toledo THOSE are sinking ships.

livinthegoodlife

May 19th, 2011
8:03 am

I’m from Ohio every SINGLE MAJOR CITY except Columbus is sinking, you guys have no idea what BAD REALLY is. Atlanta is handing out jobs compared to Ohio…

Shortbus

May 19th, 2011
8:04 am

All of you complaining about Georgia and Atlanta are morons. South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, , Nebraska, Alaska?! I mean they have to pay people to live in Alaska. Did it not occur to any of you that states with the highest growth are the ones that got hit the hardest?

It’s no wonder states like North Dakota and Wyoming are doing so well – they don’t have that many jobs to begin with, they don’t have a large population, and they are barely growing. Georgia is one of the fastest growing states and Atlanta one of the fastest growing metro areas – it’s going to hurt us a lot more than Nebraska or Alaska! We had huge population growth which in the recession has now negatively effected the housing market and we have a large population which means more jobs to begin with which means there’s going to be more job loss in a recession. The unemployment rate continues to go down and even if it is slowly decreasing, it’s better than going back up.

livinthegoodlife

May 19th, 2011
8:06 am

Where are all of the people moving?? Out west and the Southeast, specifically, NC,SC, and GA!! There is warm weather, great people, and A LOT OF JOBS!! I’m telling you coming from the buckeye state to here was EYE OPENING!! I love the south (and Atlanta) so this damn yankee will never leave!!!!

native atlantan

May 19th, 2011
8:06 am

My customers are finding ways to do without many of the products they bought in the past. Less employees mean less products used in their marketplace. Folks will not return call from sales reps. Too afraid to say “no” to our face, instead they just want to hide. When they do need something, and Im not around, they call and say “how quickly can you get it here”? Keeping inventory onhand is out. After 30 years of having the same job which I like, but not having any fun it quite a while.

Blah Blah Blah!!!

May 19th, 2011
8:15 am

A.S Matthew, well said, Double D had a made a good point as well,

This is what happens when thousands, if not millions of people move into a metro area expecting a job to automatically fall from the sky because they have some sort of higher education. It sucks, it really does, but as a true ATLANTAN, I can say that the majority of people who move here have a greedy mentality and misuse our resources,good weather, and our (use to be good) hospitality, now look at us, we are all struggling… Why? Because thousands of people are packed in here fighting for the same jobs(despite the amount of businesses that migrate with these people every year). Within twenty-years(Lord Willing), we truly will be a traditional crummy city such as detroit, in fact, except for the weather, we are already there (mentality wise), and lets just see where this pride mentality will lead us… oh yeah, straight to Hell!!! Crime, more traffic, look for it to continue…. Unfortunately, I can now honestly say that I’m yet another angry Georgian who is ready to move out the State and start over elsewhere….

gm

May 19th, 2011
8:16 am

Once again this is what happens when you idiots run and vote the Rep party in office here in this State for the last 8 years.
Unemployment in several states is around 6% because the people did not vote against their interest, and their Gov took stimulus money to put people to work, but you hicks vote these Rep conservatives in office who care little about creating jobs here, oh but wait its Obama fault, what a bunch of retards in Georgia.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out

May 19th, 2011
8:17 am

I am a small business owner in the northern suburbs and am having to work harder than I ever have in my life just to maintain the same lifestyle I have enjoyed the last 10 years. I am living the dream and loving it! America is great because when the going gets tough, the “pretenders” move to Nebraska and Alaska.

Praying for a Newt Gingrich-Zell Miller ticket in 2012!

Truth Hurts

May 19th, 2011
8:21 am

How’s That REPUBLICAN Georgia “Leadership” Thing working out For You Folks?

PRICELESS…..

Closet Democrat

May 19th, 2011
8:24 am

Truth Hurts
May 19th, 2011
8:21 am
How’s That REPUBLICAN Georgia “Leadership” Thing working out For You Folks?
PRICELESS…..

Move to Nebraska and Alaska for easy street jobs and I’ll let you know. HAHAHAHA. What a LOSER!

Native

May 19th, 2011
8:28 am

“Praying for a Newt Gingrich-Zell Miller ticket in 2012″!

I wish that would really happen. America would be more fiscally responsible I guarantee you that.

seeker

May 19th, 2011
8:30 am

But wait, Obama and the liberal media (hint hint) says everything is wonderful. Out of work and

Mike Jones

May 19th, 2011
8:30 am

When Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling and President Obama cannot continue to fund entitlement programs (Section 8, Food Stamps, Unemployment benefits, Welfare etc…). Watch what happens to the this country and it’s “Im Entitled to benefits that someone else provides from the cradle to the grave” class of Moochers.

jay

May 19th, 2011
8:34 am

Mike Jones

May 19th, 2011
6:49 am
How’s that “Hope and Change” working out for you folks.

###################

What does the President have to do with the plight of Metro Atlanta, the 7 million people and the bad traffic and the lack of jobs here?

commoncents

May 19th, 2011
8:39 am

gm-
Unemployment by state averages 8.26%. For anything below 7.0%, move to Kansas, Wyoming, The Dakotas etc. You obviously won’t be able to enjoy everything that a major city like Atlanta has to offer, but hey- You will almost certainly have a job being a coal miner in North Dakota! (Or whatever their main labor is)

Taking govt money to subsidize the unemployed doesn’t solve anything and just artificially lowers unemployment numbers and digs a deeper hole that we will have to work out of.

Truth hurts-
That “leadership” is going great for my family! I just wish they could speed up construction of the 285/400N interchange!

Mike Jones

May 19th, 2011
8:42 am

If this economy does not improve, we will be building a fence around the city of Atlanta to keep everyone who lives there out of the suburbs. We don’t them taking our vegetables out of our victory gardens, nor picking our apples from our freshly planted orchards.

commoncents

May 19th, 2011
8:44 am

Double D-

Go ahead and move to FL. According to http://www.ncsl.org/?tabid=13308 unemployment for FL is 11.1% while GA is 10%. If you’re going to whine about the amount of jobs in general (”there are plenty of jobs in these areas”), then I prob wouldn’t move to a state with less available jobs (percentage-wise)

Mike Jones

May 19th, 2011
8:44 am

Jay. President Obama is responsible for “everything” I learned this from the MSM while Bush was president.

livinthegoodlife

May 19th, 2011
8:45 am

Blah Blah Blah, sounds like you’re a bit bitter because somebody beat you out for a job…. Hey if you don’t like GA or Atlanta, LEAVE!! There are plenty of jobs to go around, and plenty of people willing to take them. This city is vibrant, full of young people who spend $$!! Us young professionals are bringing new and exciting things to old delpated neighborhoods new coffee shops, kickball, and all kinds of other fun new things to areas in Atlanta…. The young 20-30 somethings are really driving Atlanta right now, and as we do more and more people will want to move here. If you can’t take the heat then get out of the kitchen, Atlanta has treated me great!!

Blue dog

May 19th, 2011
8:56 am

Dixie lot lizard

You have no idea how wrong you are regarding state government and state pensions. The state workforce totals 60,000, Excluding teachers, out of that total 14,000 were laid off or their job was left vacant. The workforce is less than it was in the 70’s even though the states population has increased substantially. The pension mess in Atlanta has nothing to do will state employees pension fund. Our pension is paid mostly out of our salaries over decades, like your 401K. We own our pension trust fund and only require some annual contribution from the state to stay solvent. These annual payments have not been paid by the state the last several years, but our fund is still solvent so, we paid for the pension, we own it and it is not your problem, so talk about something you actually know something about.

Homer

May 19th, 2011
9:05 am

“Georgia, we’re not Arizona!” Ooops, well maybe we are.

Blue dog

May 19th, 2011
9:08 am

For all of you who think state government is “bloated” let me share one surprising statistic. The state workforce had 7 active workers for each retiree several years ago…now it is just 2 active employees for each retiree. Only 7 % of workers actually retire: thats how “great” these jobs are. Furthermore, there were thousands of open positions prior to the recession that the state could not fill due to low salaries, no raises, etc. Lastly, Ga citizens are taxed, not just lower than all the other states in the Southeast, but Substantially lower.

Bradley

May 19th, 2011
9:43 am

Livingthegoodlife-I am right there with you. It will be us that makes and keeps this place a great city. I have lived in an number of big cities and Atlanta has a lot to offer. For those saying its only a matter of time until it self implodes, go on back to your suburbs of wherever you came from. there is too much pride and respect for this city for it to just fall to the wayside. I havent been here long, but I love this place. And as far as jobs go, I left another competing southeastern city to come here for a job, so before you start whining, this place is in much better shape than most of its neighbors.

Blah Blah Blah!!!

May 19th, 2011
9:55 am

livinthegoodlife,

Not bitter at all, just honest, I’m working a job I enjoy. Let’s be blunt for a minute, with the rate of individuals moving here, not to mention everyone having children(rather it be out of wed-lock or not), how long do you think this GOOD LIFE will last… Trust me, ask so many other States that had mass population growth in the 60’s and 70’s and ask how are they doing now…. As soon as this place becomes a hell hole, a lot of you will find another place to destroy…. blunt enough?

Blah Blah Blah!!!

May 19th, 2011
9:59 am

Bradley,

It was never said Atlanta wasn’t a great place, yes it is in better shape than most its neighbors, but lets be serious, it still hasn’t hit its population peak, the resources only can last for so long, look at all the potholes in the metro area…. it’s due to too much traffic and not enough time to replace old, rural roads….. think about it…. a lot of you are just talking about the now, but things were much better several years ago…and Yes, time does change things,and I do not mean to sound like I’m living in the past… I’m actually quite liberal for the most part, of course we are in better shape than our neighbors, that’s because we are much BIGGER than anyone else in the Southeast….

livinthegoodlife

May 19th, 2011
10:09 am

Hasn’t Atlanta been growing for about 20 years now?? Transit will catch up, why are a lot of companies eager to move their headquarters and other operations down here?? Atlanta has the perfect mix of nice weather, nice people and nice places to live. And as far as “destroying cities,” so you blame people for moving (or relocated) for the plight of what you call the downfall of Atlanta?? SO what would you suggest if you aren’t a native Atlantan you can’t live here?? Come on that is a little ridiclious isn’t it??? People flock to jobs, jobs are here, Atlanta will grow and grow, the reason is because we do not rely on any ONE industry like coal, steel etc.. There is a very good mix of various types of employment in this city and GA for that matter. I for one feel this city will continue to grow and I’m excited to be a part of it!! I guess i have a different take on things coming from Ohio, you want to see dead cities, walk down the streets of Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo etc….

Clearly

May 19th, 2011
10:09 am

The group labeled “States with the least consumer distress” could just as easily be labeled “States with the least people”. WTF is even in those states? Certainly not loads of jobs. People who move to those places are either not in need of good-paying job or already wealthy enough to survive through recessions on their own.

Young@Heart

May 19th, 2011
10:12 am

I have lived in Michigan and been in Georgia for 20 years now, and I can’t see myself anywhere else. I think everyone is hurting right now in everywhere , exept in Washington DC where they haven’t felt our pain.

YoMomma

May 19th, 2011
10:22 am

Having grown up in Nebraska and now living in Georgia for the last 6 years, I can assure you that GA is doing just fine. It’s all relative. Gee, there are jobs in Nebraska really? That’s because nobody wants to live there. And as others have mentioned, many of these indexes do not take taxes into account. I’ll guarantee nobody on here even has a clue how much Nebraskans pay in taxes. Their property taxes are among the highest.

You can’t compare Georgia to Nebraska; they are two different ballparks. Nebraska’s real estate is relatively flat and jobs are stagnant (farming, insurance, financial services, frieght, etc.) whereas Georgia is largely a service-based industry. It’s comparing apples to oranges.

Seems like a vast majority of the Georgia naysayers need to pick up a textbook or newspaper once in awhile before venting about how crappy their lives are. Don’t be mad just because you aren’t qualified to get a job in the state of GA. The pain is felt nationwide. If you don’t like it here, we don’t want you here. Good luck.

Bradley

May 19th, 2011
10:30 am

Blah, Blah, Blah – There is one of your problems. Your main concern is roads. While yes they are clearly vital, it will be the expansion of transit options that will transform this city for the better and continue its progression. The most successful cities in this country are the ones with transit options. New York, Chicago, D.C., San Fran. It is also the recentering of the city. Atlanta grew as a suburban place. We are now finding that that dosent work so well with energy problems, the issue of lost time and resources to commuting. As Atlanta continues its city growth (and dont cite the census because we all know that is wrong) and grows more compactly it will flourish, while our Southeastern neighbors continue sprawl outward and will struggle. Bigger is not better, and that is not why Atlanta is doing better. Atlanta is outperforming Charlotte, Birminghman, etc because of economic diversity and the acknowledgment that continued suburban sprawl has detrimental effects on everyone.

YoMomma

May 19th, 2011
10:33 am

@Bradley. Couldn’t agree more. An adequate mass transit system that fills MARTA’s gaps will certainly help ATL metro.

Bradley

May 19th, 2011
10:36 am

@YoMomma – Not sure how involved you are, but get involved. There are tons of organizations out there to help voice opinions to accomplish the expansion of mass transit. Atlanta is on the cusp of accomplishing many things that will greatly improve this city. Its time to stop letting the suburbanites dictate how this city is planned and how the real residents use and occupy it.

livinthegoodlife

May 19th, 2011
10:41 am

The thing with marta is ppl in the suburbs complain about the cost but you can bet they are the first drive their cars to a marta station and use the service!! Marta will come eventually, the younger generation wants MARTA mass transit….