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Study: Consumers' distress near tops in nation

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — CredAbility has released the CredAbility Consumer Distress Index results for the 2010 third quarter. And Mississippi consumers nearly top the index.

The index, a quarterly measure that tracks the financial condition of the average U.S. household, found that the incremental improvements in consumer financial health in the first half of 2010 have been reversed due to weaker household budgets, renewed strains on housing costs and continued high levels of unemployment.

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, American households scored a 64.4 on the Index’s 100-point scale, down from 65.2 in the second quarter of 2010. A score below 70 indicates a state of financial distress. The average U.S. consumer has been in financial distress for nine consecutive quarters, according to the Index.

Index scores fell in 41 states during the recent quarter, underscoring the depth and breadth of consumer financial distress that continues to grip the nation. The average consumer in all but six states is in distress.

On a more positive note, Index data shows consumers’ net worth remains stable and while the savings rate slipped slightly, consumers continued to pay down debt, indicating that an uptick in household spending in the third quarter was made with current funds instead of borrowed money.

Michigan posted the worst score on the Index with a 58.11, replacing Nevada as the state with the highest level of consumer financial distress. Mississippi ranked second with a 58.76. Michigan and Mississippi were the only two states to score below 60.

North Dakota again had the best performance, improving its score to 79.45.

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