While no one region of the country has been more affected than another, several states have residents that are struggling more than others under the weight of their outstanding credit card debt, according to a report from credit reporting bureau Equifax. Californians currently carry the greatest debt burden, with nearly $90.6 billion in outstanding balances, well ahead of the next-closest state.
Residents of Texas and Florida have the second- and third-most credit card debt in the nation, with more than $48.8 billion and nearly $47.6 billion, respectively, the report said. Ohio was next with almost $29 billion. North Carolina (close to $22.4 billion) and Washington (slightly less than $18.3 billion) rounded out the list of the most troubled states. Overall, consumers are reducing their debt, but some still owe as much as 17 percent of their income to credit card lenders.
"The good news is we're seeing Americans paying off their debts and becoming more fiscally fit," says Dianne Bernez, senior vice president for corporate communications at Equifax. "However, the numbers show that while people's intentions are good, Americans still have a lot of debt to tackle and often don't know where to start."
However, overall consumer debt, which includes credit cards as well as that for mortgages and auto loans, has now slipped by 8.2 percent from its all-time record high of $11.5 trillion in October of 2008, the report said. Meanwhile, credit card lenders are currently owed $800 billion by more than 54 million American households.
To help encourage homeowners to make a greater effort to reduce their credit card debt, Equifax also announced a partnership with popular financial expert David Bach, the report said. Together, they are encouraging 1 million Americans to shed $1 billion in debt in the coming year.
Overall, many Americans have cut their credit card debt over the last year, leading to fewer instances of delinquent or defaulted accounts for all major lenders. However, some financial experts say this is the result of not only sound fiscal responsibility from borrowers, but also the large number of consumers who have been flushed from the lending system as a result of past charge offs.