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
States with the least consumer distress
1. North Dakota
2. South Dakota
- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat
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